St Peter’s/St Joseph’s Bidding Prayers
17th / 18th July 2021
16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
When the disciples return from mission, Jesus wants to spend some time with them. He now takes time to listen to our prayers.
Like the crowd that greet Jesus, we are hungry for his teaching: May his message find a home in our hearts.
Lord hear us.
We pray for our children and grandchildren now on their summer break: May this time be free of stress for them, so that they can rebuild their energies.
Lord hear us.
Legal covid restrictions are coming to an end: May we be aware of the need to make personal decisions to keep ourselves and everyone else safe.
Lord hear us.
Many people have helped us over the past many months by the concern they have shown for our welfare: May our hearts be full of gratitude. Lord hear us.
We pray for those who have died recently, especially Robert Clare, and for those whose anniversaries occur at about this time. May they enjoy eternal peace with God in heaven.
Lord hear us.
God is at work in our hearts, even when we are not thinking about him. In a moment of silence let us be attentive to what he might be doing.
[After a pause]
Lord hear us.
Mary was happy when she received news of her son and his teaching. May she present our prayers to him.
We make these prayers in faith, believing in the one to whom we commend them: God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, living and reigning for ever.
Reflection for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Sunday, 18th July 2021
If you do not have a copy of the missalette, you can find today’s readings at www.universalis .com
As we saw last week, Jesus sends out the 12 to preach repentance and to minister to the sick. This week we hear about their return. They are full of energy and bursting to share with Jesus their experiences. Jesus tries to arrange a short break so that they can rebuild their energies, but, as we shall see, his plans backfire.
Jesus recognises the importance of sharing experiences. This was the first time he had sent out the 12 without him, so he wanted to give them the opportunity to reflect on what had happened. I’m sure Jesus was able to help them to see the finger of God at work on their journeys and through the people they encountered. Luke reports that when the 72 returned from their mission, they were so full of energy. Jesus told them: “I saw Satan fall like lightening”!
Some of us have missed the opportunity to share during lockdown. There have not been safe spaces for us to chat with others our day to day experiences. We can reflect on our day by ourselves, but it’s not the same as being able to share this with someone else.
I’m glad to say that this has not always been the case. At the beginning of lockdown we encouraged parishioners, especially those who live alone, to choose a “buddy” and to phone that person every day. This was just to stay in touch and look out for the other. I’m glad to say that some of these friendships have blossomed and grown. Maybe not every day now, but I hope we still manage to stay in touch with each other in this way in the future. It’s nice to have someone with whom we can share little experiences. We can imagine Jesus with us showing us how the finger of God is at work in the little details of our lives too.
As we shall see as the story develops in John’s gospel over the next few weeks, the plan to have some down time was soon abandoned. As Jesus and the disciples stepped ashore, there was an expectant crown to greet them, hungry for the teaching of Jesus. Jesus describes them as being like “sheep without a shepherd” and takes pity on them, and begins to teach them at some length.
The image of a shepherd as being the spiritual leader harkens back to the time of King David, who was taken from looking after the families sheep to be anointed as king of Israel. As king he protected his flock, made sure they were fed and watered and even set out to look for the lost ones. Jesus is “Son of David” not just in terms of physical descent, but also in terms of using King David as his role model. In composing the 23rd Psalm, King David became aware of how the Lord is our shepherd and how he ministers to us as a good shepherd should.
In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah has harsh words for those who occupy the office of shepherd, but who are not caring for those in their spiritual charge. The rulers of his time have been more concerned with their own welfare than in looking after their sheep. In particular, they have allowed the flock to be scattered, so that they are no longer of one heart and of one mind. In the time of King David, there was one king ruling over one nation that believed in a single God. However, after Solomon, the nation was divided, and worship of other gods became the norm.
Jesus sets himself to teach the people at some length to give them a sense of identity and self-worth. He wants everyone to have a personal relationship with God, who he calls “Father”, and to believe in him alone.
This Sunday is the last time I will be printing out my homilies. From now on they will be delivered verbally at the Weekend Masses. In fact, the homily tends to develop as the weekend progresses. Some people have told me that they have been helped by having them printed and available on line. I’m glad that we have reached the point where we can go back to some form of “normality”.