Rest in the Lord
(16th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)
It is time to once again stop and reflect on today’s readings from a La Salette perspective.
Jeremiah proclaims God’s condemnation of “the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” But does the flock bear no responsibility? Real sheep cannot be blamed for being sheep, but when dealing with human beings, the image can go only so far. We have a conscience.
In its chapter on The Dignity of the Human Person, the Catechism of the Catholic Church includes a section on conscience. It begins with a quotation from Vatican II: “Man has in his heart a law inscribed by God.... His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.”
It then presents Church teaching under four headings, one of which is, The Formation of Conscience. The underlying premise is faith, such as the Psalmist today expresses in the Lord, his Shepherd.
Around the time of the French revolution, the philosophy of separation of Church and State, logical enough in itself, had led to serious anticlericalism. Since then, it is possible in France to celebrate a “civil baptism” for a newborn child, who is placed “under the protection of the Republic’s lay institutions.”
This attitude was behind people’s neglect of the Eucharist, and of religious practice in general, which Mary complained of at La Salette. Her people had been led astray.
Jeremiah conveys God’s promise: “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock.” The Beautiful Lady offers hope to those who will but return to her Son.
Today there are many “shepherds” competing for the trust of the flock. The list includes scientists, governments, psychologists, news commentators, etc. Some are overtly hostile to religion. How are we to cope?
Today’s Gospel offers a hint. Jesus says to his Apostles after their missionary journey, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” That didn’t happen, but the principle is sound. We need to get away sometimes from all the distractions, to rest with the Lord who refreshes our soul, and to pray well.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.