Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Justice & Integrity

The age of integrity began with Jesus Christ. It must continue with us.

Jul 22, 2018

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)
Readings: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34

When I read through the Sacred Scripture for this Sunday, I was struck by one concept in the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah. First of all, a little background. Jeremiah wrote immediately before the great and horrible exile.

Jeremiah, you might remember, told the leaders to trust in God and not to make treaties with the pagan nations. These treaties would demand the practice of pagan rituals, and the adoption of pagan immorality. More than this, these treaties would be a rejection of something that was at the heart of the Hebrew People. God had chosen them. God had delivered them from the Egyptians, fought their battles for them and protected them in the past. A treaty with another nation would imply that God would not care for his people. At very best, the leaders would be hedging their bets.

Now while these leaders, these faithless shepherds, were rejecting God, they were also putting on the pious front.

Externally they appeared to be religious. In reality they were hypocrites. Jeremiah was sick of their act. He continued his attack against them. He piled the prophetic gloom and doom on thick. But then, he did a 180 and spoke positively.

That’s the section that caught my eye. Jeremiah prophesied a day when the leaders would be wise and just, a day when people would proclaim with their lives, “The Lord is our justice.”

Usually when we hear the term “justice” we think of court cases. We refer to justice as a decision that safeguards the rights of all people. Biblical justice is much deeper than that. Biblical justice describes a way of life that reflects the presence of God. Biblical justice is based on faith in God resulting in a particular way of acting. Biblical justice refers to integrity.

Now there’s a word that we don’t hear a lot, at least not in the public forum. Integrity. The word integrity means to be whole, complete. A person with integrity is a person of sincerity, a person whose actions are a natural reflection of his or her interior. A person with integrity has a firm hold on the truth. He does not create truth. He respects truth.

The age of integrity began with Jesus Christ. It must continue with us.

A day is coming when people will say, “The Lord is our justice, our integrity.” That day is upon us. We have in the past, and we can in the present be people who make the love of Christ a living reality in the world. Jesus is with us. Jesus is yearning to come out of us. He is calling us to be the people we can be.

Many people in the world have tremendous needs. They need true leaders to show them the love, the compassion of Christ. They need us to be those leaders. We can do this. We must do this. --By Msgr Joseph A Pellegrino

Thoughts From The Early Church

They were like sheep without a shepherd. (Mk: 6:34)
“The apostles returned to Jesus and reported to him everything they had done and taught.” As well as reporting to him what they themselves had done and taught, they told him what had befallen John the Baptist while they were teaching.

And he said to them, “Come away to some place where you can be alone by yourselves and rest awhile.”

The following words show what real need there was to give the disciples some rest: “For many were coming and going and they had no time even to eat.” The great happiness of those days can be seen from the hard work of those who taught and the enthusiasm of those who learned.

If only in our time such a concourse of faithful listeners would again press round the ministers of the word, not allowing them time to attend to their physical needs!

For those denied the time needed to look after their bodies will have still less opportunity to heed the soul’s or the body’s temptations.

Rather, people of whom the word of faith and the saving ministry is demanded in season and out of season have an incentive to meditate upon heavenly things so as not to contradict what they teach by what they do.

“And they got into the boat and went away by themselves to a deserted spot.” The disciples did not get into the boat alone, but took the Lord with them, as the evangelist Matthew makes clear.

“Many people saw them set out and recognised them, and from all the towns they hastened to the place on foot and reached it before them.” The fact that people on foot are said to have reached the place first shows that the disciples did not go with our Lord to the opposite bank of the sea or the Jordan, but crossed some stream or inlet to reach a nearby spot in the same region, within walking distance for the local people.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Gospel)

Matthew relates more fully how he took pity on them. He says, “And he took pity on them and cured their sick.” This is what it means really to take pity on the poor, and on those who have no one to guide them: to open the way of truth to them by teaching, to heal their physical infirmities, and to make them want to praise the divine generosity by feeding them when they are hungry as Jesus did according to the following verses.

Jesus tested the crowd’s faith, and having done so he gave it a fitting reward. He sought out a lonely place to see if they would take the trouble to follow him.

For their part, they showed how concerned they were for their salvation by the effort they made in going along the deserted road not on donkeys or in carts of various kinds, but on foot.

In return Jesus welcomed those weary, ignorant, sick, and hungry people, instructing, healing, and feeding them as a kindly saviour and physician, and so letting them know how pleased he is by their devotion to him. — Bede (c. 673-735)

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