Homily 16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B - The Good Shepherd

Homily (Sermon) – Travelling with the Good Shepherd

The Readings for Sunday 22nd July 2012  or the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B:
First Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm Psalm 22
New Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel Mark 6:30-34
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

My cousin is a farmer in Ireland, he keeps cows and some of them were in a field behind my mums house. Somehow a number of cows from another farm got into the field and mixed with his cows. When he came to fetch his cows in the evening for milking all he did was call from the gate, all of his cows knew his voice and started walking out of the field, the other cows just stayed where they were eating the grass. If you come from a farming background this story won't surprise you but to me a real towny I was amazed, but to understand what Jeremiah was saying you need to know how well treated animals respond to their master.

The prophet Jeremiah was speaking to a farming people, he knew they understood how the animals of a good farmer would follow him and how only a bad farmer would allow his animals to wander and get lost. His message to the leaders of Israel was a strong one, you are failing in your duty, your people are lost, God is going to send a leader to restore things to the way they should be. A shepherd who the sheep will love and follow.

When God sent His Son as the shepherd, He not only gathered the Children of Israel, but also the gentiles. He looked around the world and said, every sheep is mine, come to me. But to pay the price our broken lives and sins deserved, to purchase all of us, every sheep, he paid a large price. He paid with his own blood, his own life, he paid for each and everyone of us on the cross.

We are still those sheep, lost and listening for our masters voice, ready to run to him. Ready to return to his flock, and when we have returned to his flock, we, like the disciples, are also called to be shepherds, called to look after the sheep that haven't yet heard his voice. We are called to live a challenging and busy life in the service of the Good Shepherd, in the service of every person, every sheep in his flock.

From our beautiful psalm, we know if we journey with Christ our shepherd, we will be feed, our needs looked after, our spirits raised. But the journey isn't easy, sometime it will be tough, dark and surrounded by evil but our Shepherd is near so there is nothing to fear.

And it's during a busy and challenge time that we join the 12 disciples in the Mark's Gospel today. I think it's wonderful to hear this gospel passage of scripture, without hearing what comes after. If you read on, it would be far to easy to ignore what we just heard. Why? Because what follows is the feeding of the 5000.  Here we have a few simple lines about the disciples returning to Jesus, a promise of some quiet times, and the introduction of a large crowd miles from home. So is this passage just the setting of the scene, a literary journey to where Mark really want us to be? Well I don't think so.

We know from last weeks Gospel Reading from Mark's gospel that Jesus sent the disciples out to do preach repentance, cast out devils and heal the sick. We also know that they took very little with them relying on the Lord to provide for them. It must have been a hard and marvellous journey for them, and they returned tired and in need of rest.

On first reading I felt sorry for the disciples, their promise of some quiet time disappeared when they saw the large crowd waiting for them on the bank. I thought, the Lords work is never done, I smiled and thought this is a good example for us all, laity, deacons and priests, we need to get used to the call of the Lord and the work calling us to do, he has anointed us to do.

But then I prayed about what I should be saying today, and that wasn't it. Then the line “Sometimes the journey is enough” got stuck in my head.

When they arrived on the shore and saw the crowds they were ready. We don't know what happened on the boat, but we do know the disciples spent the journey in the company of Jesus, and that was all they needed.

As Christians we have been called to do the Lords work. It's a wonderful job and a demanding job and sometimes we get tired. I got home one Thursday evening, with about 30 minutes to eat, change and get back out the door to teach an evening at our Journey In Faith class. Gail looked at me, and said “I'll drive you round tonight love”, we spent ten minutes together in the car, Gail, me & God. I got out of the car refreshed and ready for the evening.

We are the sheep, shepherds, brothers and sisters of our Lord. We can do wonderful things with Christ our Lord, and like the disciples in today's gospel we get tired, and sometimes we don't have time to stop, but sometimes, as long as Jesus is with you, the journey, is all you need.

Last weeks Homily 15th Sunday - Homily Index - Next weeks Homily 17th Sunday


  1. thank you for this homily

  2. Great reflection overall! But how interesting that at the end of it all, the journey with Jesus is what will determine how we treat with the demands of being a servant leader! We all need to remember that, particularly if we answer his call to be shepherd. Thanks for your sharing!

    1. When I prepared this homily the theme of journey was very strong as I read and prayed to the Holy Spirit. I also particularly like Thomas Merton's small book He is Risen, which talks poetically of the journey we all take following Christ "He has risen, He is not here... he is going before you to Galilee." Mark 16:6-7
      May God bless your Shepherding.