Sixteenth Ordinary Sunday
Points to note
This reading is specifically the introduction to the miracle of the loaves from Mk. This miracle is important in the Catholic Church as it forms the base to our sacrament to the Eucharist. The Missal, therefore, takes time out in the Ordinary Sunday cycle of readings to deal with this a little more in depth. As the doctrinal explanation of this miracle in Mk, however, is rather skimpy, the readings from Jn are used from next week onwards to explain the significance of this miracle.
I have, consequently, decided to decouple this introduction from the miracle of the loaves. It can, fortunately, stand by itself in that the concern that Jesus has for his sheep is highlighted, and thus, continue the theme of protection and Jesus’ help that runs through the last two Sundays.
Acclamation before the Gospel
The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice, says the Lord, I know them and they follow me.
In last week’s reading, Jesus just sent out the disciples to preach in the towns around Galilee.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 6: 30-34)
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people saw them going and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place and reached it before them. So, as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.
This is the Gospel of the Lord
What does a shepherd do? Discuss specifically what a shepherd does for the sheep. Let them graze and rest; make them comfortable, including taking them into shelter at night; protect them.
What qualities should a shepherd have? Being sensitive to the needs of the sheep; courage when needed to protect the sheep.
Discuss how Jesus was sensitive to the apostles in the reading. What did he think they needed? Rest, a little food, some place to be alone. Did he provide them with it? Discuss stories in the Bible where God was sensitive to the needs of his people and provided for them: feeding with manna, etc.
Discuss how Jesus was sensitive to the people in the reading. What did he think they needed? A little bit of direction, a bit of leadership, a bit of comfort, a lot of teaching. Did he provide them with it? Discuss times when God promised to care for us. (Is 49:15-16 I have carved you on the palms of my hands; Ps 23 the Lord is my Shepherd)
Discuss how we can be like Jesus and be sensitive to others and care for others and see to it that they are comfortable. Give concrete examples. Start with the family and go on to school situations. For older children, discuss where people stand up and argue for the poor and the underprivileged.
Lead on to discuss how the shepherd leads the sheep to food. What happens during winter when it is too cold for the sheep to graze outside? The shepherd prepares hay for them. What happens when there is a famine and there is not much grass on the ground? The shepherd leads the sheep further away to find better grazing ground.
You can then discuss how just as the shepherd leads the flock to sustenance, Jesus also leads us to sustenance at mass. This anticipates next week reading so you can leave more of it to the next few weeks.