18th July, 2021

person in hammock

Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, Mk 6: 30-34

I remember that several years ago, when I was preaching a homily, and it was a homily for children, and when I was telling them something about a holiday, one little boy asked me a question that at first seemed a typically childish question and a bit funny at the same time: Does God go on holiday, as we do with our parents several times a year? We can imagine that this question caused a wave of laughter throughout the church and also almost all of his young friends were laughing so much that I was unable to continue my sermon. Only his younger brother at one point raised his hand to get the microphone and then to clarify and answer his brother’s question. When I handed him the microphone, he said something that amazed everyone in the church. He said: This question about God’s holiday wasn’t weird or funny at all! At this point, there was an incredible silence in the church as everyone waited for another childish and very funny comment from the little boy. However, he continued his short speech very seriously and he said it very loudly and with great courage: Yes, God goes on holiday, but only if we take Him with us instead of leaving him at home or in the church! Of course, all the people in the church – including me – agreed with both of them, and the parents of these two boys were very proud to have such bright and intelligent sons. Who wouldn’t be?

Also, today’s Gospel tells us a bit about holidays and rest, and I think it is the perfect Word of God especially for children who started their long-awaited holiday and brake from school last Friday. But – as we can guess – this Word of God is addressed not only to children. A week ago, we heard about Jesus sending His disciples and entrusting them with the very responsible mission of: teaching, healing the sick, casting out unclean spirits, and many other tasks. Today however we heard about the Apostles returning and telling Jesus about everything they had done and taught. Then He said to them: You must come away to some lonely place, all by yourselves and rest for a while. I think that this one sentence can be a great and valuable lesson and inspiration for our daily prayers. When – for various reasons – we find it difficult to pray or concentrate on our prayers, when we experience distractions, when we find it difficult to pray a rosary, to open a Bible, or simply spend some time in silent adoration, we can do exactly what the Apostles did, we can tell Jesus about our lives, about our whole day at work at school on holiday, we can tell Him about all the people we’ve met and about everything we’ve done. I am convinced that Jesus always listens to us with great interest, just as He listened to everything that the Apostles had to say to Him.

The second encouragement we heard in the Gospel was the invitation to a well-deserved rest after work. I think each of us knows people who are very committed to their work – which is good – but also people who are addicted to work and sometimes they are very proud of it when they say: I haven’t been on holiday for a long time, because I am so dedicated to my job and to my responsibilities! And I must confess that sometimes I succumb to this temptation myself, because that is also my weak point. And that is why each of us needs to hear this one sentence and this one specific message of Jesus personally, because I am convinced that this invitation of Jesus is addressed to each of us, no matter what our profession is or whether we are retired or not. Jesus wants to tell us today that regular rest from work, sometimes rest from people as well, sometimes from the social media and the Internet, sometimes from sport, from our daily routine – is our Christian duty. But on the other hand, just as there is no rest from eating, drinking and breathing, there is no rest from God, there is no rest from prayer, and there is no rest from love and respect for other people that is our brothers and sisters.

Let us pray today that God will be present in our lives also during the holiday time – through our daily prayer, through our reading or listening to the Scriptures, through the Sacraments – wherever we are and whatever we do, He can always play an important role in our lives. But let us also remember about rest, which allows us to work effectively and which makes our mission even more effective.

Fr Gregory