1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord our God,
help us to love You with all our hearts
and to love all people as You love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.
2) GOSPEL READING - MARK 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 Jesus 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.
The Gospel today is in great contrast with that of yesterday. On one side, the banquet of death, wanted by Herod with the great of his kingdom in the Palace of the Capital, during which John the Baptist was murdered (Mk 6: 17-29); on the other side, the banquet of life promoted by Jesus with the hungry people of Galilee in the desert (Mk 6: 30-44).The Gospel today presents only the introduction to the multiplication of the loaves and describes the teaching of Jesus.
Mark 6: 30-32. The welcome given to the disciples. At that time, the apostles rejoined Jesus and told Him all they had done and taught. And He said to them, “Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” These verses show how Jesus formed His disciples. He was not concerned only with the content of the preaching, but also with rest for the disciples. He invited them to go to a lonely place so as to be able to rest and review what they had done.
Mark 6: 33-34. The welcome given to the people. The people noticed that Jesus had gone to the other side of the lake, and they followed Him trying to go to Him by foot, to the other shore. So as He stepped ashore He saw a large crowd, and He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd and He began to teach them at some length. Seeing that crowd, Jesus was sad, because they were like sheep without a shepherd . He forgets about His own rest and begins to teach them. In becoming aware that the people have no shepherd, Jesus began to be their shepherd. He begins to teach them. As the psalm says, “The Lord is my Shepherd! I lack nothing. In grassy meadows He lets me lie. By tranquil streams He leads me to restore my spirit. He guides me in paths of saving justice as befits His name. Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death I should fear no danger, for You are at my side. Your staff and Your crook are there to soothe me. You prepare a table for me in the sight of my enemies.” (Ps 23: 1:3-5). Jesus wanted to rest together with His disciples, but the desire to respond to the needs of the people impels Him to leave rest aside. Something similar happens when He meets the Samaritan woman. The disciples went to get some food. When they returned they said to Jesus, “Master, eat something!” (Jn 4: 31), but He answers, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” (Jn 4: 32). The desire to respond to the needs of the Samaritan people leads Him to forget His hunger. My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and to complete His work (Jn 4: 34). The first thing is to respond to the people who look for Him. Then He can eat.
Then Jesus began to teach them many things. The Gospel of Mark tells us many things that Jesus taught. The people were impressed: A new teaching! He taught them with authority! It was unlike that of the scribes! (Mk 1: 22.27). Teaching was what Jesus did the most (Mk 2: 13; 4: 1-2; 6: 34). This is what He usually did (Mk 10: 1). For another fifteen times Mark says that Jesus taught. Was it perhaps because Mark was not interested in the content? It depends on what people understand when they speak about content! To teach is not only a question of teaching new truths in order to say something. The content which Jesus gave did not only appear in His words, but also in His gestures and in His way of relating with people. The content is never separated from the person who communicates it. Jesus was a welcoming person (Mk 6: 34). He wanted the good of the people. The goodness and the love which came from His words formed part of the content. They were His temperament. A good content without goodness and kindness would be like milk poured on the floor. Jesus’ teaching manifested itself in a thousand ways. Jesus accepts as disciples not only men, but also women. He does not only teach in the synagogue, but also in any place where there were people to listen to Him: in the synagogue, in the house, on the shore, on the mountain, on the plain, in the boat, in the desert. It was not the relationship of pupil-teacher, but of disciple to Master. The professor teaches and the pupil is with him during the time of the class. The Master gives witness and the disciple lives with Him 24 hours a day. It is more difficult to be a Master than a teacher! We are not pupils of Jesus, we are His disciples! The teaching of Jesus was a communication that came from the abundance of His heart in the most varied forms: like a conversation by which He tries to clarify the facts (Mk 9: 9-13), like a comparison or parable that invites people to think and to participate (Mk 4: 33), like an explanation of what He Himself thought and did (Mk 7: 17-23), like a discussion which does not necessarily avoid polemics (Mk 2: 6-12), like a criticism that denounces what is false and mistaken (Mk 12: 38-40). It was always a witness of what He Himself lived, an expression of His love! (Mt 11: 28-30).
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
What do you do when you want to teach others something about your faith and your religion? Do you imitate Jesus?
Jesus is concerned not only about the content, but also about rest. How was the religious education that you received as a child? Did the catechists imitate Jesus?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
How can a young man keep his way spotless?
By keeping your words.
With all my heart I seek You;
do not let me stray from Your commandments. (Ps 119:9-10)