Catholic in Yanchep

Go out into the deep.

Leave a comment

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time | God, are you in control or do I have to take over?

Detail Jesus in the home of Mary and Martha Tintoretto

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary (detail), Jacopo Tintoretto, c. 1570, oil on canvas, Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany.

How often do you want to tell God what he’s supposed to be doing?  I find myself doing this increasingly, especially now in our unusually mixed-up times.

Martha does it, in today’s Gospel:   ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’  James and John did it when they said, of the inhospitable Samaritans, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?’  Peter did it, when he rebuked Jesus for foretelling the suffering he would undergo: ‘Never, Lord!  This shall never happen to you!’  Even Mary and Joseph did it when they said, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this?  Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’

Jesus just doesn’t seem to do what any normal, sensible person would.

But then, perhaps that’s because he’s God, and we are not.

‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:9)

We have to remember that we aren’t God, and that God has ways of doing things that might not occur to us from our cramped and self-indulgent perspective.

A lot of us think we are God (or at least we ought to be).  We want to be able to define things for ourselves.  Some of us want to redefine the scope and purpose of marriage.  Some of us want to define exactly when a baby can be regarded as a human (or not).  Some of us want to be able to decide the manner and the time of our death.  Some of us want to subjugate anyone who refuses to submit to Allah.  Some of us want to hound Christians out of the public square.  Some of us are just very angry at all the other people who are being disagreeable.  With all these people wanting to take over God’s role, it’s enough to make anyone anxious, or at least want to crawl into a hole.

Well, in today’s Gospel, Mary has chosen ‘the better part’.  She is sitting in rapt attention at Jesus’ feet, absorbing everything he says.  Jesus’ advice to Martha?  ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’

If you’re feeling anxious, get close to Jesus.  He knows your problems.  Trust him to have a plan.  If you can’t see his plan right now, immerse yourself in the Gospel and cast all your worries on Him.  It’s easier if we remember that we’re not in Paradise yet, and this life wasn’t meant to be comfortable.  We only get there if we navigate through life, remaining faithful to Him throughout our quest.  God probably hasn’t put you in control of the world, so stick to doing good in the little things you can control – small acts of kindness, for example.

Today’s readings:

Word format: Year C 16th Sunday 2016

Pdf format: Year C 16th Sunday 2016

Leave a comment

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B | Like sheep without a shepherd

Christ as Good Shepherd with Apostles and lambs, Sarcophagus, 4th century, relief, Museo Pio Cristiano, Vatican.

Christ as Good Shepherd with Apostles and lambs, Sarcophagus, 4th century, relief, Museo Pio Cristiano, Vatican.

We’re all looking for a leader, whether we realise it or not.  This week, The Australian reported that ‘tipoffs to the National Security Hotline in Australia’s largest state have increased tenfold in two years’.

[NSW Police Force Counter Terrorism Command Head, Mark Murdoch] said that in 2013 NSW police received just 769 referrals from the National Security Hotline, which was set up in 2002 by the Howard government as a clearing-house for information from the public.

Last year, that figure jumped to 4600. This year, NSW police are projecting an estimated 6900 referrals, an almost tenfold increase on the figures of just two years ago.

…He said his officers often had just hours in which to thwart deadly terror attacks.  Increasingly those attacks were either inspired or assisted by jihadists in Syria or Iraq, with the offenders getting younger and younger. Schoolchildren as young as 14 were ­falling under the spell of Islamic State, Mr Murdoch said.

These children are hungry for a leader, like sheep looking for a shepherd, except that they’ve attached themselves to evil shepherds, who are inspired by Satan himself.  The news media will always attribute this to the wrong causes, because they do not understand the workings of Satan in the world.  By contrast, the people in today’s Gospel are also described as ‘sheep without a shepherd’, but God rescues them by coming in his own person.  Jesus ‘took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.’  Let us pray that more of the lost sheep in our country will recognise the voice of the Good Shepherd, and that God will raise up strong evangelists and leaders in the Church.

Download this Sunday’s readings:,

Word format: Year B 16th Sunday 2015

Pdf format: Year B 16th Sunday 2015

For more on this, listen to Fr Barron’s homily, Looking for a Shepherd.

And for a word study on today’s readings, go to Dr John Bergsma’s commentary, The Shepherd Teaches the Flock.