16th Sunday, O T, Year B
Jer.23:1-6/ Eph.2:13-18/ Mk.6:30-34
I am sure we know what the initials “RIP” stand for. We see these initials on tombstones and on niches – and of course we know it stands for “Rest in Peace”. (Not Rise if Possible!)
It seems that only for those who have passed, those who have died, only they are entitled to “rest in peace”.
But for the living (and that means us!), we can go around wearing T-shirts with the big letters RIP – and they would stand for “Rest if Possible”.
Well, in a modern society like America, we are plagued with nothing less than busyness. In fact, we can be so busy that RIP can also mean “ripped into pieces”.
Maybe that is why we like to go overseas or out of states for holidays. We want to get away from it all, to have some rest and some peace. (As if it is possible!)
Even when we are in the restroom, we still cannot rest in peace. Because someone will come along and knock on the door and say things like: You are still in there? Can you hurry up?
And we can also forget about Sunday being a day of rest. Sundays can be so filled with busyness, that we need to recuperate from Monday to Saturday.
But whatever day it might be, we are always busy, we are always “on the go”. But where are we going?
We heard in the gospel that Jesus had sent his disciples “on the go”, to go on the mission of preaching repentance and deliverance and healing.
They had been busy, and no doubt they liked it because they saw how the authority of Jesus worked in them – people repented, evil spirits were cast out, the sick were cured.
And also, there was so much more to do that the disciples didn’t even have time to eat. But they were high, and they wanted to go on for more.
And that’s when Jesus jammed the brakes and told them to come away to a lonely place and rest.
Yet, the irony was that it was Jesus Himself who ended up “on the go” – He set Himself to teach the crowds. In other words, Jesus ended up being busy.
And the so-called “rest” that He wanted for His disciples was certainly short-lived, if ever there was any at all. So, what is it that Jesus is teaching us in the Gospel today?
Is it that, there will be no rest and peace all the days of our lives, until we are over and done with life? Come to think of it, rest and peace is so elusive, isn’t it?
For example, parents will never rest from their responsibilities and they will always worry about their grown-up children. Married couples would long for some peace between each other.
Those who are sick would long for a good night’s rest without pain. Those who have done something wrong would long for peace and reconciliation.
So, we may be longing for a good rest, but we better not say we are dying to rest. (Because we might just end up in eternal rest!)
But just like that short amount of respite that Jesus and His disciples had in the boat before they reached the other side, God will also give us just enough of rest so that our hearts will have just enough of peace.
Because our God who gives us rest is also restless. Because He cares for those who are like sheep without a shepherd.
As we heard in the gospel, when Jesus 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.
In doing so, Jesus taught His disciples a profound lesson.
The happiest people in the world are not those who have no problems, but those who learn to live with things that are less than perfect, and to have compassion on others.
There is a story of group of graduates, highly established in their careers, who got together to visit their old university professor.
Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee, the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the simple and cheap ones.
While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee.
In most cases, it is just the quality of the cup and in some cases even hides what we drink.
What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. Then you began eyeing each other’s cups.”
The point of the story is that Life is like the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups.
They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.
Sometimes, by concentrating on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.
The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.
Compassion is like good coffee. We are like the earthenware cups that contain the good coffee of God’s compassion.
Those who are tired and wearied by the troubles of life would long for the aroma and thirst for a drink of the coffee of God’s compassion.
No matter what kind of cup we think we are, we can always offer others a drink of God’s compassion.
God’s compassion will offer rest to the weary and peace to the troubled.
May we be the cups that will contain God’s compassion and may we ourselves find rest and peace in God.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing.Amen.