We have two homilies by Father Hanly for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. We have a recording and transcript for each homily.
Interruptions to our Plans
In this beautiful homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Father Hanly shows that when preaching the love of God “we have to lay aside many of our plans because something more important is here, and that is people in need, people in need of being reached out to, accepted, cared for.”
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
It’s a very short gospel. Remember now, we’re in Mark, and the lovely thing about Mark is he leaves you asking yourself questions all the time. I’ll give you an example now.
This is Jesus with his disciples. The disciples had been sent out, maybe a few weeks before, to the towns and villages, to teach them about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is near, the Kingdom of God is here, the Kingdom of God is within you. And now they all come back, and he gathers them around, and they tell him, and he asks them, how was their journey.
Well, can you imagine this. Most of them are simple fishermen, and they went two-by-two because to send them one by one would be to lose them all. None of them would have the courage to be able to make that journey to these places and preach the Kingdom of God.
And here’s how Mark describes it:
“The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
And Jesus said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
They’re going on retreat. And I am sure that there’s an agenda and Jesus is going to preach to them, and teach them, and make sure they understand what they are doing. We don’t know, because Mark never tells us what Jesus tells them. That used to frustrate me, but now I kind of enjoy it, because you can fill in the blanks for yourself if you listen carefully.
“People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.”
This is very nice, now. They’re in the boat, and they will cross the Sea of Galilee, and they are going to spend a couple of days in retreat, and they are going to pray, and be together, and do all these wonderful things, and deepen their faith, and deepen their commitment, and do all the things we do when we do go on retreat.
But, the people saw them leaving, and those who were smart enough knew when they got in the boat where they were going. So they ran around the whole beach around that area of Galilee and they got there first. And here the disciples, who had no time to eat, they were working so hard, they had been on this journey, and Jesus is with them, and they get off, and here is an even greater crowd of people.
Well, if it was us, we’d realise that the whole retreat was spoiled, that we weren’t going to be alone, we weren’t going to eat ourselves, and we were going to have to feed this massive number of people, and so the whole thing would be a great disappointment.
“When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,”
Pity, in this sense, doesn’t mean to feel sorry for them. The Jewish word really means, it doesn’t have the idea of looking down on them, the idea is he feels very sad because, as he says, they are like sheep without a shepherd, they don’t know where to turn. And he knows, deep in his own heart, what a terrible thing this is to feel the loneliness and not having any direction or any centre to your life. And he reaches out to that. And that’s why he understands he has always got his disciples, but these people need him.
“For,” he says.
“they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.”
What did he teach them? Well, we don’t know, because the gospel doesn’t tell us what he taught them. And yet, when Mark puts this in here he wants you to understand just who you are, and your situation, and what is the important thing when you go out to preach the Kingdom of God and what is secondary.
I’ll give you an example now.
There’s a Chinese priest who you all know, but I’m not going to mention his name, but I was with him for a while and we were talking one day about what does it mean when God …“When you were ordained,” I’ll call him Bill. “Bill, when you were ordained what did you feel that Jesus expected of you?”
And he said, “Well, you know, I was at the parish, and I decided that this was my people, and I was going to organize them in such a way that they would understand the scriptures and they would become fully adept at understanding the Old Testament and the New Testament. And they would be able to probably have practice lessons on how to preach and how to teach. And we’d organise into little groups. And then in these little groups we’d become maybe groups that would influence larger groups. And very soon we’d have a large community of people here. And this would be the preaching of the God and the extension of the Kingdom…”
And I said, “Well, what was your first few days like when you came there?”
And he said, “Well, I got into the parish, and I got all my stuff, and then I came down, and I had an office, and I was ready to start preparing to read the salvation of the world to these people and, all of a sudden, the cook says, ‘The toilets are overflowing.’ ‘Oh, alright, I’ll try to do something.’” So he went up and, being a handy guy, he finally got this thing underway.
And then he comes down, and he sits down, and he is ready to change the world again, and he’s sitting there reading the scripture about the sermon he is going to give, and then these three little kids come in and they say, “Father, our bird died, you know. Would you come and say some prayers?”
And I said, “What did you do, Bill?” And he said, “The kids, they felt so bad, there was about six or seven of them, so I went to their house and they had a little box and in the box was the dead bird. And I took them out in a very special place and we dug a little hole and we put a little cross on it…”
And I said, “You didn’t tell the bishop that you had the Catholic rites for the burial of a bird did you?” And he said, “Oh no, no. But the children were very, very happy, because we all prayed that God would give the bird happiness and that we would always remember the bird as being such a wonderful part of our life etc, etc.”
And so he got back to the business, after he got rid of the children, of saving the world. And he sat down, and he opened up this book again, and a little old lady came in and she said, “Father, excuse me, but I have something very important.” She was carrying oranges. There used to be an old saying in Taiwan, “Never trust an old lady carrying oranges”. It meant she was going to ask you to do something.
And he said, “Yes,” knowing exactly what it was. But first she was very polite. Then she decided, as they did in the old country, even in Europe, they never told you what was on their mind, they just kind of said, “Well, how are you doing? And how’s your mother? And how’s your father? And you’ve been a priest now for two weeks and what is it like…” And then she picks up her oranges to walk out and she turns back and says, “Oh, by the way, I have a grandson and he is entering the world now and I am wondering if you could write him a letter of introduction to a man who is training boys how to make bicycles” or something like that.
So I said to Bill, I said, “Well, how do you feel, Bill?” He said, “Well, I found out that it’s very hard to save the world when you have all these distractions and all these interruptions.”
And then I agreed with him, because much of your life are distractions and interruptions. You think you can have this wonderful plan when you’re in your house or wherever you are. And it looks so well on paper. And everything is going to happen, and you begin to implement it in a parish with ordinary people, and all you get is distractions and interruptions.
Mark is saying that’s what, to the disciples, you notice? Jesus, the first thing, you see, Jesus is the reason why they are there. It is Jesus. We are not preaching the Kingdom of God; we are preaching the presence of Jesus. And we don’t preach it with our mouths; we preach it with our lives. Remember that. You do not convert people with your mouth; you convert them with your life. Because when you start talking and explaining and doing all these wonderful things, the person who is listening to you is saying this is a man or a woman who really believes, and they really care, and they are taking time out, maybe, just to try to make me understand what they have in their own hearts.
So, basically, what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples is that preaching the word of God is not a matter of libraries, it’s not a matter of organization. It’s one thing. It is allowing the kindness and the love and the caring of Jesus to reach from your heart into everybody else’s heart.
And so the lady, the cook who comes down and her whole day has been ruined because the toilet is backed up, and you yourself go up and do that are saying that she is more important than the saving of the world through all the studies that you want to do that morning.
And the little children, who feel at a terrible loss because it’s the first time they touch death when their little bird dies, are to be given great importance.
And maybe it’s God trying to get your attention by all the distractions in your life that you don’t run over these things and feel they just happen.
And, of course, this is what God is saying to us. That the interruptions, and the distractions, and the ever flow of the ordinary day, is filled with the teaching and the preaching of what God expects of us and wants us to do and is with us to help us to become.
Because the Kingdom of God is only this: the presence of God with his people, and his people filled with a kind of kindness as Jesus always felt. A welcoming, never being upset, never being side-tracked from the very point of view is, that it is in the interruptions, and the little things, and the tiny miserable things that put us off very often and annoy us, it is through this that the Kingdom of God is revealed.
Why? Because love is only expressed through the small things in life. If you want to create the world, you want to be the famous person, you can do that. But if you are there to preach the love of God and the gift of God, all you have to do is pay attention to the interruptions in your life, and you will find that God will lead you to an understanding of how people are touched, because this is what Jesus did.
The first thing Mark said was, when his disciples came back, he sat down with them, and he listened, and he listened, and he listened. And then, when they got to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, he saw we have to lay aside many of our plans because something more important is here, and that is people in need, people in need of being reached out to, accepted, cared for.
And I think this is what Mark is trying to say. That it is in, not so much the preaching, but the living with people and the ordinariness of everyday life, with its ups and downs, its confusions and all its problems, and also with the love and caring of Jesus being expressed by a group of people who really think people are more important than plans, people are more important than the future, the people that are here and now with us, we must make them understand that we value them, we care about them, and that they are the reason why we are with them.
Because God works through people and so he hopes that we ourselves will give ourselves to the interruptions, and develop what Jesus was: a man of compassion, a man who listens, a man who cares, a man who heals by his listening, his compassion and his caring.
And this is what changes the world. Because the Kingdom of God is Jesus himself. And the more that we try to be like him, the more the Kingdom of God is preached to all the world.
A New Way of Loving
In this beautiful homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Father Hanly shows us the heart of Jesus’ message has to do with only one thing, and that is a new way of loving, where we are to create a world where people feel, once and for ever, at one with each other, at one with God, at one with the world.
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
This is one of the shortest Gospels that is on record and, naturally, it comes from St Mark.
Did you know that if you went home now and you opened up the Bible and you paged until you got to St Mark’s Gospel and you timed yourself, you would begin at a quarter to one and you would read it out loud and you’d read it quickly but you’d read it with fullness (you have to have a quiet place to do this) and before 45 minutes was over, you’d have read the whole of St Mark’s Gospel. That’s how short it is.
We hear Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but Mark is the one who founded Gospels. His Gospel comes first, and Matthew and Luke copy — much of their own Gospels, they copied them from Mark.
I like Mark, because tradition would have it that Mark was only a young man when Jesus was preaching and teaching, and there’s a part in the Gospel according to Mark where Jesus gets arrested and everybody ran, and there was one young boy, Mark says, and he ran, too, but they grabbed hold of his cloak and what he did was he ran right out of his cloak and ran home naked. And everybody feels that that’s Mark’s signature. It’s kind of a nice signature.
They say his mother and father, also, were the ones who were living in Jerusalem at the time and that, perhaps, it was in their home that the Last Supper took place. All these are quite interesting biographies. But today we have Mark.
Now remember we are at the beginning of Jesus’ work among the people.
John the Baptist has been destroyed. He’s been killed by Herod and his head was sent to Herodias, his enemy. But everybody who knew John knew that they pointed to Jesus, for John himself, it was he who said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” when Jesus was passing.
And his own disciples were faithful and true to him right to the very end, and even a little later, but they knew that what John had pointed out was he had come to point out that this is the Messiah, the long-awaited Messiah who would change the destiny of the whole world.
Anyhow, today’s Gospel begins. It’s quite short. The Apostles were gathered together with Jesus, and Jesus was teaching them and preaching to them and telling them… But we don’t know what the material was, just that he was doing this.
This is very interesting, because Mark never tells you what Jesus preached about. Very rarely will he say, “Jesus said this, that and the other thing.” He will set up a kind of a situation and he will then try to let you guess what it has in the meaning of understanding Jesus and understanding the role of Mark’s Gospel.
He taught… You listened to the Gospel last week, and you know that Jesus was telling them to go forth now and begin the salvation of the whole world.
Now, these are just twelve little fishermen, or maybe one or two are not fisherman, but very illiterate kind of people. And Jesus was sending them out on their own up into Galilee to preach the coming of the Messiah, the coming of the new world and all of this.
And he sent them two by two. I think he sent them two by two, because if he sent them one by one, nobody would have come back. It would need two by two. You know how when you need to reassure each other, you go out two by two.
And they went out, two by two, and in today’s Gospel they come back.
What are they supposed to do?
They’re not supposed to have any money. They’re not supposed to have two sets of clothes. They’re not even allowed to have a walking stick. In fact, they have nothing except themselves. And this is the beginning of changing the world.
This is incredible when we think how we would do it, the way we would organise it. Now just think if this parish decided that we were going to begin the organisation of the coming of the Messiah to the whole world. Well, we, first of all, would take a big collection trying to get as much money as possible, get the smartest people, make sure they were theologically sound etc, etc, etc, because these are the people that were going to build the new world, you see.
And Jesus just takes everything away, including their two sets of clothes. So simple.
What is Mark trying to say?
Think of that for the rest of the week. What is Mark trying to say?
Maybe we’re too conscious of, let’s say, sending people through higher education so they might understand the meaning of the Messiah, or that we would be able to finance this whole project that was going to save the world.
Logical, isn’t it?
But this is not the way of God. That’s why we love God. God is poor, God is needy, God is vulnerable. This is a God that we’re a little bit frightened of.
We like that one way up in heaven, judging whether or not the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad and they’ll go to hell.
This is not the God of Jesus. This is a God we made up out of our own fears maybe or looking for some kind of security.
Because all that Jesus is and has is nothing. “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” The Son of Man, meaning the Messiah, has no place to lay his head.
Anyhow, the disciples go off and what they’re told is, “Go into the homes of the people and tell them what you have seen.”
And Jesus, we don’t know where he went, but he’s not going with them. The leader is not going with them, just these…
The more you think about it, the more you wonder about it.
But you don’t wonder for too long, because they come back and, instead of being frightened and terrified, they’re really happy. They had a wonderful time. They’d gone in to these people. Total strangers took them in. They stayed for a couple of weeks, two by two, into each of these homes. They met no resistance. They met great hope. And they came back and they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus, which is the beginning of today’s Gospel.
The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
And then Jesus, was so happy to see them all back.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
They’re going on retreat. You know how we go on retreats, get away from the work for a while, begin to restore your energy, restore your abilities and be together.
And, of course, Jesus would be there to teach them and preach to them and tell them all the things that they must do on their next journey, etc. And that’s the way it’s planned. It’s a good plan that Jesus himself supports: go to a quiet, deserted place.
So they hop in the boat and they’re crossing the Sea of Galilee.
But the Sea of Galilee where they hopped in the boat in Capharnaum, the beach runs on land all the way around the Sea of Galilee at that point. So a couple of the smart people who were anxious to go with them, because they wanted to be cured, they had lots of things on their mind and they wanted to discuss them, so what they did was they ran around on the shoreline all the way around to the other side.
So when Jesus and the boat and the disciples landed, what did they find?
Five thousand people waiting, just waiting.
Now you would think that Jesus would be quite angry, because we would be if we were going on a retreat and suddenly all this rag tag group of people are screaming and yelling and they want to be served. And we’d say, “Well, later, or next week, or Tuesday afternoon at 3 o’clock I’ll be there, whatever you need I’ll give you.”
But Jesus looks at them and he feels terrible, he feels sad for them. He has sympathy for them, because they’re like sheep without a shepherd, as he says.
And so what do they do?
Well, there goes the retreat. There goes the resting time. Everything is gone.
And Jesus says, “They want us to take care of them. We will take care of them.” And that’s what he does.
And they all sit around on the grass, all five thousand, and Jesus begins to teach and to preach and to be with them.
And, of course, I’m sure we’d all like to know what he said and how he went about it and did he take notes that we could use them in our own efforts to teach and preach and all of that.
But nothing was written, because Mark doesn’t think it’s important, what Jesus said.
That seems odd, doesn’t it? But if he thought it was important, what Jesus said, he would have written it.
But what he was saying was something entirely different.
We preach by being with each other. That’s how we preach.
We don’t preach doctrine. If we really want to convince somebody we love to become one with us in this wonderful family, this new family of God, we’re not looking for agendas, we’re not looking for wonderful creatures that are going to raise us up.
What we’re looking for is friendship. We’re looking to sit down with people who are having as many difficulties as we are having.
And it is Jesus, the presence of Jesus, that draws them out of their fears and makes them, slowly and gradually, a people talking to each other in this empty deserted place on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
Now, we know that the heart of Jesus’ message, it is not dogma, it is not learning. It has nothing to do with mastering a new way of life. It has to do with only one thing and that is a new way of loving.
And what is the new way of loving?
It is not what Jesus tells us to do or wants us to do.
The new way of loving is: love me, be with me, walk with me, sleep with me. I will be here, not only now, not only next week, but I will be here all days, even to the consummation of the world.
I am here that you might learn, yes, but not learn from books. You must learn from each other. You must learn from your kindness to each other, your care for each other, your love for each other. You’re not supposed to pile up a library. You’re supposed to create a world where people feel, once and for ever, at one with each other, at one with God, at one with the world.
And this is the heart. And that is why Jesus does not preach as much in Mark, but he dies on a cross, because dying on a cross is the ultimate sacrifice of giving your whole life to what you believe in.
And from that time on, the cross, instead of becoming a hated object of destruction of the worst of people, the cross becomes the new way to a new life, a life of love, a life with God and a life with each other.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
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.
Perhaps the best lessons we learn from Mark are that, yes, reading is important, yes, understanding with our head is very important. All the things that we do to forward in liturgies, in books, in schools, these are all good things and things we should continue to do.
But we must remember, if you’re not learning to love, stay out of the game. This sounds cruel, but if you’re not learning to love, you’ll never understand it and you might twist it.
The other thing you must understand is this: this is only a place for sinners. Jesus did not die for anyone except sinners. You have to be a sinner.
What is a sinner?
I was once told to sin is never to love. It’s a lack of love and reaching out and caring.
So what are we?
We are the forgiven sinners. And we are forgiven each day not just once. And we are here to learn out of humility, out of caring for other people, out of coming together with hope, God’s hope, with faith, God’s faith, and with love, the love of God for all of us.
And so people go on and on and on. We say how many Christians do you have this year, and how many this and that. These are all numbers on a board.
What is going on is what Jesus says, “I will never leave you. I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the whole world.”
And that is the one truth that we follow: to walk with him wherever he takes us, to live with him in the way that he lives, and to learn to love with him in the way that he loves. And that is our life.
To be a disciple means to follow a master, but our master is the humble little carpenter’s son from Nazareth who has changed the whole world.
FAQ for Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
|WHEN IS 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, IN 2021?||18th July 2021|
|What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle? ||17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B|
|WHO WAS FATHER HANLY?||FATHER DENIS J. HANLY WAS A MARYKNOLL MISSIONARY|
|HOW CAN WE FIND OTHER HOMILIES BY FATHER HANLY?||BY LITURGICAL CALENDAR OR BY TOPIC OR BY TITLE|
Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
All Rights Reserved.
If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2019), please contact us for permission.
Father Hanly's sermon for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, "Interruptions to our Plans" was delivered on 19th July 2009. Father Hanly's sermon for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, "A New Way Of Loving" was delivered on 22nd July 2012. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.
We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.