16th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: July 18, 2021
Are there any good Catholics in here? I do not think that speaking about good or bad Catholics is a very helpful discussion. The problem is that when we think of “good”, we often think of a conformist, someone who does not disrupt anything, someone who follows all the rules and so on.
But, Jesus would not be considered good in this sense. Jesus was not a good guy, who went along with the crowd, who followed all the rules, and so on. Remember, Jesus was executed by the empire of the day. He was put to death. The empire of the day considered him a problem and the religious authorities of his day supported and encouraged his execution. Jesus would probably not be considered a “good” Catholic by the empires of our day nor by the religious authorities of our day.
When we start making judgements, dividing people into good or bad Catholics, we are usually on the path to being self-righteous. We normally think of ourselves as the good Catholics and see others as the bad Catholics.
It seems to me a much better reflection is to ask myself, am I a healthy Catholic? Are you a healthy Catholic?
In this Gospel we see Jesus call his disciples to “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Jesus is concerned with his disciples being healthy. Healthy as human beings, healthy spiritually. One essential need for us to be healthy as human beings and as Catholics, is the need for time of rest. We need time of solitude, time of silence. The church realizes this need with priests. Canon Law requires that a priest does a yearly retreat.
But, all of us in our life need times away from work and doing things. We need silence, solitude, rest that allows us to be healthy. I know that for some of you new parents with young children that can be a challenge!
In the story of Creation from the Book of Genesis it says that God rested on the seventh day. This became the Sabbath principle within the Hebrew tradition. The need for rest is something very human and necessary for a healthy human life.
Jesus and the disciples go off to a deserted place to rest, but soon a crowd finds them. These were needy people. It says when Jesus saw the crowd, “he had compassion for them.” A healthy Catholic is someone who looks out at the world, looks out at others, with eyes of compassion. To see others with eyes of compassion, not judgement, not rejection, not avoidance. A healthy Catholic is one who cares for others.
When I was a vocation director and men were coming to explore the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood, what I was looking for was not, is this man a “good” Catholic. Rather I was looking to see if this man was a healthy human being.
Jesus calls each of us away to a deserted place now and then. A place of silence and solitude and rest. Jesus realizes that this rest is necessary for us to be healthy human beings. Time away for rest and prayer with Jesus is also what opens us to see with the eyes of compassion.
So, do not worry if you are a good Catholic. Rather, are you a healthy Catholic. Make sure you take time for rest and solitude. This will allow you to be a healthy Catholic, one who sees others with the eyes of Jesus, with the eyes of compassion.