“Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time”

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for July 19, 2015

The authors of the Lectionary advise us frequently to  look at the First Reading and the Gospel together. Today  they seem to be both about shepherds. In the First  Reading Jeremiah castigates the shepherds and teachers  of Israel who he says have let the sheep go astray. He  warns them of the vengeance of God who will punish them for their misdeeds and neglect of their flock.

He goes on to foretell the coming of new shepherds who the Lord will raise up to tend his flock. And more than this, because he says that there will also be a new King who will rule Israel with wisdom and integrity. From our vantage point in history we don’t need to be told that this new and virtuous King is Christ himself.

In the Gospel reading we hear how the Apostles have returned from their ministry in the surrounding villages and Christ proposes that they now go to a place of rest for prayer and recuperation. However, it seems that the people had followed the Apostles and would give them no peace, not allowing them even time enough to eat.

The Apostles and Jesus go off together in a boat to a lonely place but the people follow them by land and by taking a short cut they get to the destination before them. Jesus sees the crowd and takes pity on them gathered there and so he starts to teach them at length because, as it says, they were like sheep without a shepherd. 

We are shown here the compassion of Jesus who takes pity on the people who were thirsting to hear the Word of God. This highlights the important role of shepherds, of those charged with leadership of the People of God. Even though the people tire them out with their constant demands they, following the example of Jesus, wish to serve them to the point of exhaustion. 

Switching to our own day we see that it is true that Apostles are now very much needed. We have seen a steep decline in the numbers of priests and religious in the Church; and while some lay people are stepping up to take their place it is not enough. 

In short, we are facing a tremendous crisis of leadership in the Church. Bishops and Religious Superiors have drafted in priests and religious from the developing areas of our world but still we face a shortage. 

So there is a great need for new people to take on roles of leadership in the Church; whether this be as priests, religious or lay people. From each community there should arise a sufficient number of leaders able to take on the task of supporting the work of the Church in its own particular locale. 

Here in Wealdstone we are a particularly large parish but that means that there is a lot of work to do. We certainly need more Eucharistic ministers, more readers, more catechists, more youth leaders, more altar servers and so on. But we also need others to help with preparing couples for marriage, people to support the bereaved and persons to take up positions of responsibility in our schools. 

We need too a few men who can train to become permanent deacons so that we can benefit from their preaching and ministry. There is a lot to do and we all have to realize that each one of us has a role to play within the life of the parish. 

Jesus tells the Apostles that they need to go away to a lonely place to be by themselves so that they can rest and pray. We all need this ourselves from time to time. In the Church today we often speak about going on a retreat or a pilgrimage. We go off to a holy place, whether it be a monastery or a shrine, and take some time to recharge our spiritual batteries. 

It is vital for us to do this now and again. All of us need on occasion sufficient space to reflect on our lives and to make important changes in our priorities. To do this effectively we need to set aside the necessary time for us to be alone with the Lord. 

Actually, at St Joseph’s we do this sort of thing quite well. There are many opportunities through the year to go to Lourdes or Walsingham or to other pilgrimage places. For example there is a pilgrimage to the Motherhouse of the Sisters in Sturry on 22nd August and I hope that many parishioners will join the trip.

This will be a very good way of us expressing our support for the Sisters but more importantly enabling us to spend a few hours in a holy place so that we can say our prayers and give a little time to God.

I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities to be like the Apostles and spend some time apart with like-minded people so that we can return to the pressures of everyday life spiritually refreshed and rejuvenated.

Of course, if you are not able to get away to a place of pilgrimage it is possible to do it in your own home. It is possible to set aside a day or even a few hours for private meditation. Reading a spiritual book, saying some prayers, doing the Stations of the Cross, meditating on the scriptures; all these things can be done at home.

I would urge every parishioner also to have in their home a special place for prayer. It doesn’t have to be an actual altar; it could be just a crucifix, a holy picture or a statue put in a particular corner. This small shrine can then become a place set aside for personal prayer and meditation.

Having such a place in one’s home is a great advantage and brings blessings on the whole house. It can be the place where we sit when thinking about our own difficulties or interceding with God on behalf of our family and friends. It can be a place of meditation where we keep a copy of the scriptures or our Sunday missal. It can be the place where we keep our rosary and where we use it to enlist the help of Mary in times of trouble.

In this way pilgrimage becomes part of our lives, the sacred begins to permeate our homes enabling the love of God to radiate out from there to the world around us.  

I’m not asking you to turn your homes into a Church but just to have a small corner set apart for prayer, a small place where we can easily express the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
July 19, 2015

Sixteenth Sunday: The Twenty-third Psalm

Ages and ages ago I went to a public grade school. There were no computers back in those days, no ipads or ipods, no cell phones, no DVR’s, in fact, it wasn’t until I was about 10 that people started buying color TV’s. My school days were so long ago, that the children in public schools actually began their school day with prayer. Imagine that if you can. It wasn’t much, though. Someone would read from the Bible, then everyone would say the Lord’s Prayer, with the Catholic kids not saying “Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory”, because that was the Protestant version of the Our Father, not the Catholic version, and God forbid that Catholics do anything Protestant.

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 6: 30–34

Gospel Summary

We can almost picture the disciples telling Jesus excitedly about how busy and successful they have been. They are tired now but also elated. In a contemporary setting, we might well expect Jesus to say, “Well done. Keep up the good work. In fact, you might want to pick up the pace just a little.” But he says instead, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time,Year B—July 19, 2015

Jesus took His apostles away for a quiet retreat after their exhausting preaching mission. It didn’t go exactly as planned. Why?

Gospel (Read Mk 6:30-34)

St. Mark tells us that when the apostles returned to Jesus after a busy mission of preaching and healing (see Mk 6:7-13), He wanted them to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” They all went off in a boat so they could have an opportunity to catch their breath, because “people were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.” This simple description gives us an idea of how intense Jesus’ public ministry got at times. It’s easy for us to forget that although there were times of quiet for Jesus and the Twelve, they lived and moved amidst crowds of people with pressing needs. This invitation to rest after their work is an echo of the Creation story, when God worked and then rested.

Do Not Be Afraid, For Evil Cannot Withstand the Power of Jesus 

Evil, no matter how powerful it seems, cannot stand. It will ultimately self-destruct and be overcome by the Light.
Some Pharisees, likely disingenuous in their motives, approach Jesus to warn him that he needs to leave immediately: Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you. Jesus says simply:

Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.’ (Luke 13:32)

Patriarchs Are People Too – A Reflection on the Fact That the Bible Speaks Frankly About the Faults of Our Heroes

Over the years, I have written a number of articles on the men of the Bible: many of the patriarchs of the Old Testament such as Abraham, Moses, David, Eli, and most recently, Lot and Jacob. Likewise, I’ve written on Peter and Paul, and on John the Baptist.

I find the biblical portraits of these men (and also many women as well) fascinating and often brutally honest.

“This again?”

Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of complacency? The other day I was flipping through my Missal to see what the daily Mass readings would be.  When I saw we were going through the stories of Genesis, my immediate reaction was, “Genesis again? Didn’t we just read that?”

Almost mid-thought, I stopped myself. Yes, we did. Two years ago, the last time we were in Year 1 in the weekday cycle. But what a lousy response.  I should be thinking, “Genesis again! Yes!”

Of course, I was wrestling with perfectly human reactions, but that doesn’t mean they were good ones.   I had clearly become complacent when it came to Scripture, and it was a good a wakeup call.

Extraordinary Faith from Ordinary Catholics

“In the doctrine of Christ there is no invitation to mediocrity, but a clear call to Heaven, to love and to cheerful sacrifice.” (Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God)

Feeling let down by politicians and public figures who say they are Catholic, but whose words and actions are often contrary to the teachings of the Church? Do we seek good examples for ourselves, our children or our grandchildren to emulate because we hope they will demonstrate in word and deed what it means to be authentically Catholic?  Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places. Maybe for too long we have placed the wrong people on pedestals. It is entirely possible that we need look no further than our own parishes, workplaces and communities for good examples, or as we may want to call them, “regular Catholic heroes.”

The Most Essential Question of Every Liturgy – A Meditation on a Teaching From Joseph Ratzinger

There is a legend of how the liturgy and the Faith took hold in Rus (Russia). Prince Vladimir of Kiev was seeking a right worship for his people and sent representatives to look into various faiths and also liturgies. When emissaries went south to observe the Greek Christian Liturgy, they returned saying that they were not sure if they had been in Heaven or on Earth, so beautiful was what they had seen in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. They were sure that God dwelt there among men.

Why Does Spiritual Direction Matter?

St. Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “He who constitutes himself his own spiritual director is the disciple of a fool.” Why would such a gentle saint make such a harsh statement?

It is because he saw many good souls get stuck spiritually.

He once also lamented that many who make initial progress in the interior life get stuck and very few make it past the most basic progress. St. John of the Cross also reveals in his writings that very few gain the great graces of the life that God desires to give them because they don’t understand the spiritual life.

Respectable or Faithful?

In Sacred Scripture, being faithful to God was never equated with being respectable in the eyes of society. Just look at all those biblical characters who we raise up as examples of faithful people; they were hardly respectable. In their own time, these paragons of faith were considered to be quacks and for good reason.

What would you think about a fellow like Noah who built a huge ship, far from any large body of water? Or a man like Abraham who still trusted God for a son for decades, even after his wife was menopausal? Or what about a general  like Gideon who challenged a huge army by ordering his dwindling troops of 300 to bang on their shields and uncover lanterns after dismissing 31,700 men in his army?

The simple prayer practice that will change your life

In an age where we have made numerous technological advances that are meant to save time, we find ourselves busier than ever. What does this mean for the spiritual life? The most common answer to “why don’t you pray on a daily basis” is “I have no time.” Yet, is that really an excuse?
Jim Beckman in his book God, Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer put it this way:

3 Simple Prayers for When Praying is Hard

Every Christian has at least one time in their faith journey when they feel spiritually dry. For some, this time in the spiritual desert lasts for a brief period of time and for others it lasts for a lifetime. While spiritual dry spells can encourage great spiritual growth, they are also a very trying time on a person’s soul. Spiritual dryness can lead to spiritual apathy which makes it hard to do the simplest tasks – even praying.

If you’ve spent a prolonged time in the midst of a dry spell, sometimes it can be too hard to even muster a simple Hail Mary or Our Father. I know I’ve been there. I will start praying an Our Father, and get sidetracked about three lines in. So many words; so many lines (or so it seems, when prayer is hard).

Throughout my wanderings in the spiritual desert, I’ve come to rely on a few very short and sweet prayers that are quick to utter while still expressing what is on my heart.

Not Peace, but a Sword

In our Advent liturgies we look forward to the coming of the Prince of Peace, who will bring us back to God against whom mankind had sinned. But when the Prince of Peace came, he said that he also brought a “sword.” As we follow Jesus in our everyday life, we get an idea of this sword which is ever-present for those who follow Christ.
The sword represents conflicts, challenges and even violence. At the presentation of the infant Jesus at the Temple, the holy man Simeon rejoiced at seing the Messiah as promised by the Lord and told Mary his Mother, “See him; he will be for the rise or fall of the multitudes of Israel, He shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul.” (Lk 3:  34b – 35a)

Get to know the First Saturday Devotion

As so many of the saints know, devotion to Mary is a key trait of those Christians who are most perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
“The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.” (St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #46)
In my own journey of faith, devotion to Mary has time and again been the critical step in my returning to right paths when I have strayed. And not surprisingly, I have my own mother to thank for that.

The Only Love that Gives Meaning

“I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints for the sake of Christ.”
My encounter with a widow a few years ago moved me to examine closely the authenticity of my love for Jesus. She had a mint clean Mercedes Benz car in good condition locked up in her garage. She confessed that she never liked the car herself and seldom used it because of its high gas consumption and insurance costs. When I asked her why she still kept it despite her dislike for it and her having other cars at her disposal, she replied, “My husband cared for this car so much and I am just trying to care for it as he did.” I had to respect the fact that she was in this particular stage of the grieving process.

Attending Mass is an Act of Humility

“Attending Mass is an act of humility…”
I woke up this morning with those words running through my mind. I don’t know what I was dreaming, or even if I was dreaming. The thought was just there, scrolling like a marquee across my burgeoning consciousness as I rolled half-asleep from the bed and launched into my morning routine. It stayed in the forefront of my mind during the drive to work drowning out the drivel on NPR (National Public Radio). It followed me to lunch and stared unnervingly as I ate my warmed-over chili-mac. It is sitting on my shoulder right this moment assuring me that the only way to exorcise its presence is to explore the concept in writing in some depth. So here goes.

Understanding What it Means to be Devout

The word devotion, which is derived from the Latin, answers to that of devotedness — a vowing of ourselves, a consecration of ourselves. A devout person is, then, a person devoted to God, consecrated to God. There is no stronger expression than that of devotion to mark that disposition of the soul of a person who is ready to do everything and to suffer everything for Him to whom he is devoted.

Five Ways to Approach Jesus Through Mary

In God’s infinite wisdom, He decided to come into the world to save all of humanity in His Incarnation, but also through the generous “Yes” and collaboration of Mary. Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and she is our Mother in the order of grace!

The saints, the true friends of God and our models and patterns to imitate, unanimously agree on the indispensable role that God has chosen in choosing Our Lady, Mary most holy, as a most sure means and instrument for our eternal salvation.  Why not follow in the footsteps of the saints and skyrocket in holiness?   By giving ourselves to Jesus through the hands and Immaculate Heart of Mary we will be travelling speedily on the highway to holiness which ends up in heaven—our eternal resting place!

On the Loss of Friends

The barstool where Vince Flynn often sat in Eric and Kathy Schneeman’s Mendota Heights, Minn., home reminds the couple of happy times spent with him and his family before the noted author lost his three-year battle with prostate cancer in 2013.

“I believe time heals loss,” Eric said. “God gives us peace of mind during the time it takes to heal that loss.”

If our friend has died, our faith gives us hope that the friendship hasn’t ended.

To Be a Fool

To be a fool for the Lord. On the surface, this can simply mean to not be afraid to be silly before the Lord, to go to Him without a care, and to do (good) crazy things for love of Him. It is a joyous thing. But it also means to keep being a fool for Him even in the midst of suffering, when times are difficult, when loving Him is hard.

Our God can be a difficult God to get along with, as He often asks for much more than He will give, on this side of Heaven. He often asks us to give up worldly comfort, financial stability, lucrative or influential positions. He sometimes takes loved ones from us before their old age – babies and children, lovers, friends. He takes good health from us, most often in small and inconvenient ways, but sometimes through disease, cancer, or terminal illness. Sometimes He even strips us of honor, our good names, reputations. All of this from a God who loves us!

Sign of hope

Flying out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport yesterday, this sign caught my eye:


It’s a reminder of the invaluable airport chaplaincy that serves so many faithful travelers shuttling around the world. (That sign dissolved into another message: “God Bless Our Troops,” which made me wonder how much longer such a shockingly religious message will be permitted in a public place before someone complains…but I digress.)

“Spiritual but not Religious” How Do You do That?

“I’m spiritual but not religious” is one of the catch phrases you’ll hear a good bit these days.

My question about this is, “How do you do that?”

Just exactly what do you do to be spiritual without being religious?

Do you kind of sit quietly from time to time and think beautiful thoughts?

Evangelical pastor says the Catholic Church is leading the way in evangelization

Influential evangelical and Alpha pastor Rev Nicky Gumbel yesterday sang the praises of the Catholic Church for being at the fore in bringing new Christians to faith in Jesus.
Gumbel, of Holy Trinity Brompton, the heart of Anglican church growth in the diocese of London and the nation, told a gathering of nearly 900 Catholic bishops, priests and laity: “I love the Catholic Church – she is leading the way in evangelisation.”

The Three Views of the Human Person

There are two ways to view the world. We either attempt to see the world rightly as it was intended by the divine author, or we fancy ourselves the arbiters of truth and pronounce the nature of things by our own lights.

When it comes to the human person there are at least three distinct ways to see and understand man. Not surprisingly, these three ways correspond to our tripartite human condition as Plato might have us understand it. He said we have a belly, head and heart. By the belly we can understand our physical selves as interpreted by the five senses and our appetites. By the head we can infer the faculty of the intellect and our rational capacity. By the heart we can recognize our wills to love and hate by the freedom of our own autonomous choices.

10 Great Reasons to be Catholic in 2015

Being Catholic is amazing, isn’t it?  Even after almost 2,000 years, not much has changed…we’re still a sign of contradiction in the world and the Church is still the Rock.  But sometimes it’s painfully clear that this earth is not our home and the culture isn’t exactly friendly to our faith.  But have no fear! Here are 10 great reasons to be Catholic in 2015.

1. The Mass

It was a great reason to be Catholic during the First Century too.  It has always been a great reason, probably the greatest reason.  Jesus Himself alive and in the Flesh.  Doesn’t get any better.

Pray the Most Holy Rosary!

Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once explained the goal of prayer by deliberating on age. He asked the question, “What does it mean to get old?” He answered that we get old in a measure that determines our chronological distance from the source of life. We are born and we count the increasing years that further separate us from the womb; our parents’ participation in the divine act of creation, our source of life. The further we grow away from the source of life, the more difficult it becomes to maintain our innocence and purity in this vale of tears. So the Venerable Archbishop Sheen reminds us that the end of prayer is to grow closer to the source of life, to grow closer to God. We live in an age when growing younger is a material obsession. Uncountable material resources go into extending our temporal lives. However, the only true fountain of youth available to human souls is by prayer and growing closer to Christ, the source of all life.

In Mathew 18:3, Christ says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

An Image of dying and rising in a touching cartoon.

One of the greatest paradoxes told to us in the Scriptures is that if we would save our life, we must lose it in Christ (Luke 9:24). That is, we must die to this world to inherit eternal life. “Eternal” does not simply refer to the length of the afterlife, but to its fullness as well. To inherit eternal life is to become fully alive.


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