XVI Sunday in ordinary Time

XVI Sunday in ordinary Time

Sáb., 17 Jul. 21 Lectio Divina - Ano B

 

first reading Jeremiah 23: 1-6, second reading Ephesians 2,13-18,Gospel Mark 6,30-34

This Sunday's liturgy offers us a few verses from chap. 6, but of surprising intensity, almost a sort of revelation that captures our interior gaze to fix it on the very face of Jesus and from it to receive that light that allows us to understand the profound meaning of our being his disciples. And the features of the face of Jesus that emerge in this passage are essentially those that transmit to us God's compassion for his people, that mercy without limits that flows from the very heart of God and that ignites them with indignation in the face of every abuse towards the people he has chosen. Through the prophetic force of the word of Jeremiah, God had condemned the arrogance of the self-styled leaders of the people who, instead of "shepherding his people", had scattered them: "I will gather the rest of my sheep ... and I will bring them back. to their pastures; they will be fruitful and multiply "(Jer. 23,3). The shepherd who acts according to the heart of God, that "just sprout" that "will exercise righteousness on earth", raised from the house of David and foretold in the same oracle of the prophet (Jer. 23: 5-6), finds fulfillment in Jesus, the good shepherd (cf. Jn. 10). And it is precisely the verses of Mark, reported in the liturgy, that reveal him to us as the true shepherd who gives the lost and hungry people the word and bread, but who, above all seeing that great crowd that was chasing him " had compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd "(v. 34).
Mark places the person of Jesus at the center of the scene, or rather, at the center of two movements that see Jesus in relationship with the disciples and with the crowd.
The first movement sees the disciples returning to Jesus, after having been sent on a mission (cf. Mk 6,7-13). The relationship between Jesus and the disciples in Mark has strongly accentuated: Jesus himself, Mark tells us, "called to himself those he wanted and they went to him " and "he constituted Twelve ... to be with him and to send them to preach with power to cast out demons "(3,13-15). Now, after having labored, the disciples "gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught" (v. 6:30). The gathering around Jesus transforms, for the disciples, into a return to the radical motivation of their call, to the sources of their mission, almost a clarification to themselves of their identity as disciples and sent (apostles) starting from comparison and communion with Jesus. But this renewed awareness is possible only if the disciple learns from Jesus an inner rhythm that allows one to detach oneself from the fatigue and commitments of the mission to find authentic rest. This is the meaning of Jesus' invitation: "Come aside, you alone, to a deserted place and rest a little " (v. 31). The disciple must do like Jesus: be in the midst of the crowds, but also know how to detach and withdraw in solitude by immersing himself in prayer.
Therefore, the disciple who struggles for the Kingdom must understand that everything he does, everything he says, has a deep root, a single motivation that can support him step by step on his journey: that love for Jesus which becomes rest in his daily fatigue and which allows him inner freedom that gives him peace and joy. Jesus chose that group of disciples "to be with him"; now he wants them to learn to rest with him, to return to the source of their choice, to immerse themselves in that listening that makes them truly disciples, attentive to the word of their Master, capable of contemplating his face, joyful to be with him.
But surprisingly a second movement seems to interrupt this reply: Jesus returns to that crowd that seems to absorb the time and strength of this small group of missionaries: "there were many who came and went and did not even have time to eat" (v 31). And unexpectedly in front of this crowd that follows him, Jesus does not withdraw; indeed, "he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd " (v. 34). Jesus " was moved ": in Jesus' gaze, the compassion of God is reflected. And what moves Jesus is not so much seeing a crowd that is hungry or marked by suffering but to see bewilderment: people abandoned to themselves, without points of reference, tired, in search of something that gives meaning to life. In front of this crowd, Jesus " began to teach them many things " (v. 34). In the account of Matthew and Luke, Jesus heals and feeds; in Mark instead, he teaches. His compassion is revealed in giving the Word, that word that he alone teaches with authority (cf. the insistence on this aspect in Mk 1).
Two movements in profound continuity: from the disciples to Jesus and from Jesus to the crowd. But one cannot fail to be struck by the contrast between these two movements as they are lived by Jesus: on the one hand, he invites the disciples to be with him in a secluded place, to a restful break after a tiring mission that saw them heralds of the Kingdom in conditions that are not always easy and exciting; on the other hand, he seems to abandon them and take no interest in them to immerse himself again in the crowds that are looking for and chasing him. On the other hand, we are amazed by the free, almost spontaneous way in which Jesus passes from solitude to the crowd and from the crowd returns to the solitude of prayer (in fact, after having fed the crowds, Jesus retires to the mountain to pray). It is a movement that appears tiring for us: harmonizing two contradictory choices (being in silence, in prayer, or being among the brothers in a service) always creates an inner break in us, and the passage from one choice to another is always perceived as a kind of betrayal of what we feel is fundamental to our life. And then we could ask ourselves: why does Jesus manage to make this passage in such a free and pacifying way? What must the disciple learn from Jesus?
Among the crowds that chase and seek him and in the solitude of the mountain, Jesus never leaves that place in which he incessantly finds himself and the sense of his mission: he never abandons that communion with the Father which is the bread of his life: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work". Here is the secret of Jesus, this is why Jesus can pass from solitude to crowds and from crowds to return in a silent prayer without interior rupture, in pacifying freedom: his heart always remains one because it is always rooted in listening and in the search for the will of the Father.
Being with Jesus, the disciple must precisely learn this interior journey from him. The disciple must understand that what makes it possible to overcome this gap between the desire to rest and the fatigue of being immersed in the crowd, between prayer and service, is the awareness of having been called to 'be with Jesus'. And it is this 'being', this deep intimacy that gives peace and joy to one's life, which creates continuity in the disciple's tiring journey, despite the diversity of commitments, often fragmentary and in the apparent contradiction between them. 'Being with Jesus' is the true rest to which the disciple is called.