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Gospel reflection

July 22, 2018: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 he 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.


“Look at me.” We smile when a very young child demands our attention in that manner. He or she wishes to show us something special or new that he or she can now do. There is of course a balance to this. We are each one special person in a world filled with special people. If a child goes around continuously asking us to look at him/her, or if in the celebration he/she is declaring victory over a lesser (or younger) opponent, adults seek to explain then reset the balance.

In the Apostles’ jubilant exclamations of their adventures, I hear their adult echoes of that “look at me” routine. One part of Jesus’ response was a decided practicality. The Apostles needed rest. Yet, the crowds kept coming towards them. Together they would go to a deserted place.

Another part of Jesus’ response was the invitation for the Apostles to reflect upon things according to God’s view or plan for the world. As excited as the Apostles were about their apparent successes, were those demons and illnesses retreating from the Apostles or from God?

Ah, that quiet place in the presence of God the Father allows the Apostles (and today each of us) to recognize our humble place in God’s creation. Balance and perspective are restored. We understand that we are serving God by being there to try to help our neighbor, but God is the one deciding upon and directing the miracles.

The better descriptor for the Apostles’ and each of our ministries is “Look at God.”

In our world today there is a confused and false notion about God somehow hiding just beyond where we are moving. The idea seems to be that we cannot move fast enough to catch up to God. Today’s Gospel dispels that myth. The Apostles found a sacred space to be with God in the short silence of crossing that body of water. It was their stillness and silence that allowed each of them to recognize God there with them. That is the secret. We can each be or exist in the presence of God anywhere or any moment we choose.


This week, let us remember Saint Mother Teresa’s words, “Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Find a quiet place away from worries and distractions. Talk with God or even recite a favorite prayer. Then, sit and enjoy being surrounded by God’s love.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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