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Sixteenth Sunday in the Church year.
Saint for the day: St. Mary Magdalene (1st Century)
In today’s Gospel Jesus says to the disciples, “Come away to a quiet place to rest.”
Yet when they get there it’s “business as usual” and Jesus “has pity on the people who are “like sheep without a shepherd.”
There are so many directions that we could go with today’s scripture readings and so many points that we could make but we have to land on at least one or two that give us something to chew on.
I’ll begin with today’s saint, Mary Magdalene often referred to as “preacher to the Apostles.” Remember, it was given to her the honor of being the first one to encounter the risen Christ. But even she, who was so close to Jesus, didn’t at first recognize Him. And I think it’s important for us to remember Jesus’ words to her: “Don’t cling to me but go, rather, to my decuples and tell them to meet me” – out there! On the WAY.
On a second level we have the image of shepherds and sheep that were always ON THE WAY. They couldn’t just stay at home but had to search out good pastures and fresh water. And, of course, along the way the shepherds had to watch out of lost sheep.
We also remember Jesus’ words – referring to the chosen people – “they are like sheep without a shepherd” – and they always get into trouble wandering off on their own.
So, with just those few images, we can see how important it is for us to stay connected to the fold – even in those times when we appear to be traveling through desert regions. In the end, we know that our Good Shepherd will always lead us to green pastures and fresh water – and to a place of rest.
But the last point that we have to remember is the tendency to want to stay put! Sometimes we are happier “clinging” to that quiet resting place rather than forging ahead.
So what’s our “bottom line” here? We need to meet up and have that relationship with the risen Lord but we need to keep going. And we need to trust the Lord that he will – eventually - lead us to the ultimate green pastures. Here’s a cute little verse that can give us encouragement: “Why is it that every time I take three steps forward I seem to fall back two. But in the end I get there anyway ‘cause I was usually going in the wrong direction.”
Let’s keep on “the way” trusting that God will never leave us and He will always lead us to a quiet place of rest. Amen!
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