True Pastor, True Mercy, True Food


The Readings for Saturday, 4th Week of Ordinary Time (B2)

Et ait illis : Venite seorsum in desertum locum, et requiescite pusillum. Erant enim qui veniebant et redibant multi : et nec spatium manducandi habebant. 
And he said to them: Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. For there were many coming and going: and they had not so much as time to eat. .

Jesus is being pastoral: here and later when he sees the crowd and has pity on them for being like sheep without a shepherd. Sorry, I didn’t mean to make a pun. Jesu, bone pastor, miserere nobis. Jesus, Good Shepherd, have mercy on us. 

What is so very hard about life is the comings and goings, with no time to eat. Work makes our days’ stress. Family make our evenings tight. And, in the end, the alone time we get (in the bathroom?) is spent on the internet. I can tell when I’ve had a bad week (such I have had) because it’s easy to just slump on the sofa and look off into space. It’s easy to not pray, to let the brain get filled with darkness, and in the end, sleep. But you wake up numb and it starts all over again. Jesu, magni consilii Angele, miserere nobis. Jesus, Angel of Great Counsel, have mercy on us.

So Jesus says, “Let’s go to the desert…” (You wanted dessert, I know.) and you wonder, what do you mean, Jesus? Is not this bad enough? There you are, trapped, alone – even in the middle of a crowd – and he wants to take you deeper into the alone place.

Even as I sat down to type, my alarm went off for Compline and I couldn’t quite get myself together to stand up and pray. Forever. And when I finally did, I couldn’t concentrate the whole week rushing on me and around me. And me in the Alone Place. But… suddenly… not on my own. I had been to Holy Mass earlier for blessing of candles and the sacrament. And I remember the peace that came upon me there which had, in fact, settled on me from that time until just after lunch. So much of the day spent in that peace, that comfort zone, And then some things happened and I found myself not quite in the zone. But I realized, finally, I had only been “out of the zone” for a few hours. Jesu, lux vera, Deus pacis, miserere nobis. Jesus, true light, God of peace, have mercy on us.

And someplace in the darkness a light was kindled. The realization that even if everything fails, it is Jesus who is in control, not me. And that peace that passes understanding flows in.

Knowing that one’s real work is salvation, that paying for things per se is secondary is neither comforting, nor uplifting. But it is life affirming.

And this Darkness passes. It’s the light that stays. Sunrise in the desert is very beautiful.

We can be like so many sheep without a shepherd. But Jesus is there – is here – to teach us so many things, and to show us so many kindnesses, if we will but let him. Jesu, fili Dei vivi, miserere nobis. Jesus, son of the Living God, have mercy on us.

BONE pastor, panis vere,
Iesu, nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere:
Tu nos bona fac videre
In terra viventium.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales;
Qui nos pascis hic mortales;
Tuos ibi commensales,
Coheredes et sodales

Fac sanctorum civium. Amen.

VERY BREAD, good Shepherd, tend us

Jesu, of Thy love befriend us,
Thou refresh us, Thou defend us,
Thine eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see.

Thou who all things canst and knowest,
Who on earth such food bestowest,
Grant us with Thy Saints, though lowest,
Where the heavenly feast Thou shewest,

Fellow-heirs and guests to be. Amen.


Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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