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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (1Kgs 3:4-15): Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, because that was the most renowned high place. Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings. In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, «Ask something of me and I will give it to you».

Solomon answered: «You have shown great favor to your servant, my father David, because he behaved faithfully toward you, with justice and an upright heart; and you have continued this great favor toward him, even today, seating a son of his on his throne. O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?».

The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: «Because you have asked for this —not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right— I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like».
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. Lord, teach me your statutes.
How shall a young man be faultless in his way? By keeping to your words.

With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands.

Within my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, o Lord; teach me your statutes.

With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.

In the way of your decrees I rejoice, as much as in all riches.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:27): Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 6:30-34): The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

“‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat”

Fr. David COMPTE i Verdaguer (Manlleu, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel proposes a situation, a need and a paradox; all, very real in our time, too.

The situation: The Apostles are “overworked”: “People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat” (Mk 6:31). Quite often we are facing the same kind of stress. Our work consumes a good share of our energy; the family, where each member seeks our love; the other activities, which we are engaged in, which do good to us while benefiting third parties... If you wish... you can? Maybe it would be sounder admitting we cannot do all we would like to...

The need: Our body, our head and our heart have a need: to rest. In these few verses we have an often ignored manual about resting, where communication is emphasized. The Apostles “gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught” (Mk 6:30). Communication with God, following the thread of what is more cherished to our heart. And —o surprise!— we find God is already awaiting. And He hopes to find us with our tiredness.

Jesus tells them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mk 6:31). In God's plans there is a place of rest! But there is more, as our whole existence, with all that entails, must rest in God. An anxious Saint Augustine claims: “You made us for you and our heart is restless while not resting with You.” God's rest is creative; not “anesthetic”: bumping into God's love makes us focus on our heart and our thoughts.

A paradox: The Gospel scene has a “bad” ending for the disciples who cannot rest. Jesus's plan fails since people were coming. They have not been able to break away. We often cannot get rid of our obligations (children, wife, work...): it would be a betrayal to ourselves! And yet, we must find God in these realities. If there is communication with God, if our heart rests in Him, we shall play down our useless tensions... and reality —free of chimeras— will show God's sign more clearly. In Him, that's where we should rest!

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “There is no rest which is not a weariness, unless it be suffered with God, or for God.” (Saint Teresa of Ávila)

  • “The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It casts upon it a ‘contemplative’ gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved.” (Saint John Paul II)

  • “God's action is the model for human action. If God ‘rested and was refreshed’ on the seventh day, man too ought to ‘rest’ and should let others, especially the poor, ‘be refreshed.’ (Ex 23:12). The sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2172)