July 22, 2018: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Read John 20:1-2, 11-18 of Saint Mary Magdalene being the first person to encounter the resurrection and Jesus asking her to announce it to the disciples. Her Feast day is July 22, which will not be celebrated this year because it falls on a Sunday. But take time to prayerfully reflect on how the dignity of women can better be respected, honored and encouraged to fully participate in our Church by allowing their voices to be heard.
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm: 23:1-3, 3-4, 5,6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and “form” of the bishop’s pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, “the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children. . . . The faithful . . . should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father”:
Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God’s law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop. (896) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov 29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
The Lord Jesus is the prototype and foundation of the new humanity. In him, the true “likeness of God” (2 Cor 4:4), man — who is created in the image of God — finds his fulfilment. In the definitive witness of love that God has made manifest in the cross of Christ, all the barriers of enmity have already been torn down (cf. Eph 2:12-18), and for those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division (cf. Rom 10:12; Gal 3:26-28; Col 3:11).
Thanks to the Spirit, the Church is aware of the divine plan of unity that involves the entire human race (cf. Acts 17:26), a plan destined to reunite in the mystery of salvation wrought under the saving Lordship of Christ (cf. Eph 1:8-10) all of created reality, which is fragmented and scattered. From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language (cf. Acts 2:6), the Church fulfils her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Due to this ecclesial ministry, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences, in order to attain “full unity in Christ”. (431)
Ephesians 2:14 and 2:14-16
The promise of peace that runs through the entire Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the very person of Jesus. Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are included. The Hebrew word “shalom” expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of “completeness” (cf. Is 9:5ff; Mic 5:1-4). The kingdom of the Messiah is precisely the kingdom of peace (cf. Job 25:2; Ps 29:11; 37:11; 72:3,7; 85:9,11; 119:165; 125:5, 128:6; 147:14; Song 8:10; Is 26:3,12; 32:17f.; 52:7; 54:10; 57:19; 60:17; 66:12; Hag 2:9; Zech 9:10; et al.). Jesus “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among people, reconciling them with God (cf. Eph 2:14-16). This is the very effective simplicity with which Saint Paul indicates the radical motivation spurring Christians to undertake a life and a mission of peace.
On the eve of his death, Jesus speaks of his loving relation with the Father and the unifying power that this love bestows upon his disciples. It is a farewell discourse which reveals the profound meaning of his life and can be considered a summary of all his teaching. The gift of peace is the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The words of the Risen Lord will not be any different; every time that he meets his disciples they receive from him the greeting and gift of peace: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19,21,26). (491)
Working for peace can never be separated from announcing the Gospel, which is in fact the “good news of peace” (Acts 10:36; cf. Eph 6:15) addressed to all men and women. At the centre of “the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) remains the mystery of the cross, because peace is born of Christ’s sacrifice (cf. Is 53:5) — “Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we were healed”. The crucified Jesus has overcome divisions, re-establishing peace and reconciliation, precisely through the cross, “thereby bringing the hostility to an end” (Eph 2:16) and bringing the salvation of the Resurrection to mankind. (493)
Do our shepherds act as lords instead of shepherds? Scattering sheep with voices uttering unattainable, unreasonable proclamations while robed in false holiness void of concrete actions to nurture sheep in the pasture of life. A role model driving sheep further from the table of the Lord to more distant peripheries but in tune with daily realities in modest propositions. Pseudo-shepherds who care for position, power and prestige to flaunt their scrupulous holiness and desire for a smaller, more holy Church do not care about the sheep. Their scrupulosity and imparting a doctrine of total absolutes is evil rooted in the sins of unwelcoming, unforgiving, demonizing the sheep. Only when sheep are gathered in the meadow of the Lord shall they increase to build up the Church. A meadow void of fear of the other, for we are all one, the Body of Christ. A meadow sown in encouragement pastorally articulating hope. A meadow lacking chastisement and dictates precipitating trembling. A meadow rooted in joy to over grow unworthiness. Shepherds rooted in the righteous shoot of David hold their office wisely as they do what is just and right in their land. And the sheep contently realize there is nothing they want for the restful waters refresh their souls as they are guided, not corralled, along right paths for the sake of the Lord. The sheep have courage to serve the Lord our justice with goodness and kindness following them all the days of their lives.
Today, Jesus sees a vast crowd of sheep strewn to and fro from the meadow by some shepherds rooted far away from the Gospel who have aligned themselves in waring with humanity, the family of God, and scattered sheep by this hypocrisy. Looking to divide over rubrics, unwelcoming to all with a preferential option for their perception of pristine holiness, while the common good of the Church melts under their watchful glare of the narrow prism of their agenda. All the while sheep scatter, unable to fathom their narrow gate to enter the sheepfold and more authoritarianism weighting down the shepherds’ staff. For sheep to be mute to this active, contemporary paradigm only gives increasing credence to such shepherds who ignore the questions of Jesus, the unconditional welcome of Jesus, the inclusion of Jesus leading to ultimate peace. For we are not reconciled when shepherds scatter us, as fleeing sheep cannot focus on the cross and its inherent meaning. In their haste to leave from being under attack by shepherds absorbed in culture wars, religious wars and ideological wars they look at alternative horizons precipitated by shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock. Shepherds who have taken their gaze off the Good Shepherd have not heard his voice to care for the marginalized, hurting sheep. Instead they run the sheep away leaving more empty pews each and every day for they are too busy proclaiming their absolute agenda.
Individual Reflection: Ephesians 2:13-18
How might you share these resources about the discipleship of St Mary Magdalene in your parish?
Family Reflection: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Discuss how your family sees shepherds of the Church scattering the sheep. How might your family be a healing presence in your faith community to provide welcome to the meadow of the Lord?
Prayer: Prayer Fasting and Advocacy to End Hunger
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born July 17, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.