Homily for 16th Sunday in ordinary time

Homily for 16th Sunday in ordinary time

By Frank Gowani – a major Seminarian from St Peter’s Seminary

Readings:Jer. 23: 1-6, Ps 23, Eph. 2: 13-18, Mk 6: 30-34.

The motivation behind Godly helping

Why do you help other people that need help?Is it because they need it?Is it because you have the kind of help they need, as the saying goes; ‘you can’t give what you don’t have?’ Do you help people just to make a name for yourself? Do you help people because you know them? What motivates your acts of generosity?

If you help people because you have in abundance, a time will come when you will stop helping because you will not always have it in abundance. If you help because you simply want to make yourself famous, you will stop helping at some point once you attain the fame you want. If you come to the aid of others because you know them, time will come when you will find yourself amidst unfamiliar faces, in which case your motivating factor to help will flag.

From the readings today, especially the Gospel, we are presented with what should drive us towards helping other people. Christ is motivated or ‘moved’ by pity to come to the aid of the people who were like sheep without a shepherd. Christ’s act was another practical lesson to his disciples who had just come from another practical undertaking in Jesus’ mission. Just when they were to get themselves to a lonely place and rest, there was another multitude waiting for their help. If the motivating factor behind Christ’s work was considered on the basis of the abundance of his energy for carrying out his task of saving humankind, surely he would not go into helping them at this moment, and by far his disciples who had just returned. If it was done on the basis of fame, Christ would not have the interest, he was already known by this time. And if it was to be for his familiarity with the people, it would not work to the advantage of the people, they were not any of Jesus’ familiars as a man. Pity moved Jesus.

‘Pity’ as an English word is defined as a feeling of sympathy and understanding for someone’s sufferings, troubles or difficult situations. So someone moved by pity to take a particular course of action does so primarily on the basis of the other person’s condition, and nothing personal. Christ was moved to help the suffering humanity, the troubled humanity and heal the broken state of humanity. The entire humanity had fallen short of God’s grace by succumbing to sin and went loitering like sheep without a shepherd, as it were.

However, God never gave up on humankind, a design in his own image and likeness. He sent many shepherds to gather his flock. Quite unfortunate, some shepherds destroyed and scattered his flock. But through Jesus Christ, God the Father who with the Son and the Holy Spirit are one, has in our days gathered the remnant of his flock. He has raised up a righteous branch for David, who as a king has reigned and governed wisely.

It is through Jesus Christ who gave up his life for humankind that we who were far off, we who were like sheep without shepherd have become near, have come to have a share in the kingdom of God. On account of the blood of Jesus shed of the cross the dividing wall of enmity has been broken from its core, making us no longer strangers and sojourners but fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God.

The death of Jesus Christ on the cross granted us access to the kingdom but never made us automatically possess it. We have to earn it. Are we ready to? Are we still not bound in the manacles of different forms of enmity, divisions and intolerance? Are we ever moved by the sufferings, troubles and difficult situations of other people? Don’t we give hand in worsening situations of people who are already vulnerable and lack understanding to take pity and come to their aid?  There are so many sheep that are without shepherds, let’s take pity on them. And when we do so, let’s not destroy and scatter the flock of God’s pasture for woe to such shepherds.