Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
If you were around in the time of Jesus, would you have recognized Him as the Son of God? By faith we believe that He is, but could you have picked Him out from the crowd or, meeting Him face-to-face, would you still believe?
The people in today’s Gospel seem to be wrestling with something. They hear the things that He teaches, they see the things that He does and they conclude that, clearly, this Jesus fellow is more than meets the eye. Yet they cannot quite seem to choose how to view Him: as teacher, as prophet, as king or, more boldly, the Son of God. But they seek Him out, going even to deserted places just to hear more. They do not know what to make of Him, but He sees them quite clearly: they are like sheep without a shepherd.
We can struggle greatly in our faith, in discerning in our hearts who and what, exactly, we are going to let Christ be in our lives. We are in need of a shepherd: will we allow ourselves to be led? We are lacking in wisdom: will we allow Him to teach us? We are in need of healing: will allow Him to touch us? We are in need of forgiveness: will we confess our sins to Him? We are hungry unto the very depths of our soul: will we accept His flesh and blood as food for eternal life?
When we find ourselves grappling with these questions and more we need not lose hope or feel ashamed: the Gospel says that Jesus’ heart is moved with pity for us. He came here not for the perfect, but for those who need Him: He came for us all. Yet He is more than “just this” or “just that”; He certainly is more than the carpenter’s son and, yes, something quite good can come from Nazareth. He is more than a member of ancient Palestine, more than a rabbi, more than a moral figure, more than a prophet. Our eyes see but a man, a poor man who was executed by Rome like any ordinary criminal, a man subject to most everything we are. There is however something more to this man Jesus, something that strikes the core of our being and speaks even to the remotest part of our soul, and often we cannot help but go to strange lengths just to learn more about Him and to hear what He has to tell us.
What is it that keeps us coming back to Him? St. Mark’s note about the heart of Jesus today echoes a lesson from St. John’s first letter: “We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn. 4:19) Trust in that love and let it reveal to you who Jesus is, for He is far more than anything our eyes or ears could tell us.