June 15: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Exodus 19:2-6; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8
The Gospel of Matthew today tells us that at the sight of the crowds Jesus was moved with pity. He had compassion for the crowd in front of Him. They looked troubled and abandoned. This Sunday also marks Father's Day. Happy Father’s Day! Today we pray for all our dads, whether they are near or far away, living or deceased. In a particular way we pray for the dads here in our parish as well as those visiting today. Let me start with a story. There was a family that had an unruly son who constantly broke the family rules. The father told his son that if he disobeyed one more time, he would send him to the attic, with only bread and water to eat. Well, he disobeyed again and the father ordered the boy upstairs. The father then became quiet. His wife said to him, "I know what you are thinking. But you must not bring him down from the attic. If you do so he will continue to disobey. He would have no respect for your word." He knew that his wife was right, but the father couldn't eat, thinking about his son. Finally, he grabbed a blanket and a little bit more bread. He joined his son and spent the night with him in the attic.
Today's readings reveal to us a God who is like that father in the story - firm, but compassionate. In the first reading God says through Moses to the Israelites, "If you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession." God is firm. God insists that we listen to him, that we pay attention to the promises we made at our Baptism. He wants us to tell the truth, to honor our parents and come to Mass on Sundays. But then, instead of doing those things, instead of listening to God, we listen to other voices. When we fall, God deals firmly with us, because he wants to bring us back on the right path leading to his life. As Paul’s Letter to the Romans states, God is full of compassion. While we were still sinners - even while we were in rebellion against God - he sent his Son as it were in the attic to bring us more bread and accompany us, so he could lead us to be faithful. In the Gospel Jesus sees the crowds, not just physically exhausted, but also spiritually flattened and empty. They were like sheep without a shepherd not knowing where to find what they needed to sustain themselves spiritually. That scene that Jesus saw describes the situation in the world today. In the post-modern world where consumerism and pragmatism govern our decisions and direct our energies, we have become like sheep without a shepherd in the way we sometimes roam about because of a real hunger and thirst for spiritual nourishment. When we are rebellious or lose our sense of direction, God in his Son Jesus Christ is firm and compassionate and comes up the attic to invite us back into God’s grace. What message do we take home? 1) God is like the dad in the story – firm and compassionate, an example for all dads; 2) God insists that we listen to him instead of listening to other voices; 3) Even when we are rebellious God in his Son Jesus Christ comes to us like a shepherd to bring us back to the right path that leads to God’s life.
©2008 John M. Mbinda