Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the first years of Christianity, a pagan family lived in Upper Egypt, including the 12-year-old Pachomius. One day, a large ship with a detachment of Roman soldiers arrived in their village, which lay near the Nile River. The soldiers hurried through the houses and fields, looking for young men for military service. Pachomius was among the boys caught. They tied his hands and took him on a ship. None of the Egyptian boys wanted to go to the army voluntarily because the Roman soldier did not have an easy life. The boys were taken to Thebes, where they were thrown into prison for the night. They did not let them eat or drink. However, the prisoners were amazed when several local people came among them and brought them food and drink. Who are you? – their prisoners asked. We are Christians. And why do you do that when you don’t know us at all? Christ, our God, teaches us this… Pachomius was very astonished by their goodness, for he had not yet encountered anything like this among the Gentiles where he had lived so far. He pondered all night and prayed to the Christian God to help him get free. It didn’t take long, and his desire came true. He was baptized and became a zealous Christian. Hermits lived in Egypt, whose lives were imitated by Pachomius. He founded a monastery and became the founder of the monastic way of life. He was the first monk to organize hermits into a group and write rules for them. Before his death in 346 inhabited the monasteries; he founded about seven thousand monks. This way of life lasted until the 11th century.
Today’s gospel was a continuation of the gospel from last Sunday when Jesus sent the apostles to preach the gospel. Today we listen to the joy they returned from the mission journey and told him how they were doing. He saw that success also brought fatigue and exhaustion, so he advises them: Come to a secluded place in a deserted place and relax a little. But the evangelist adds that although they tried, they failed. So they went by boat to a deserted place in solitude. But they saw them leave, and many guessed where. They ran on foot from all the cities and overtook them.
Jesus saw people’s interest in God’s word, so he said: The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. For this reason, in addition to the twelve, he sends another seventy-two into missionary harvest, and a few centuries later, thousands of priests and religious already preached the gospel. One of them was the mentioned Saint Pachomius, whose liturgical memory falls on May 9.
Jesus’ desire was not only for those who were entirely consecrated to God to devote themselves to evangelism but for evangelization to be the mission and cause of all Christians to preach Christ not only as a word but primarily as an excellent example of the Christian life because a good example is often more effective than a word.
We read in the Gospels that Jesus often went to a deserted place to rest from the people. However, he certainly did not just relax from the noise and riots, but mainly prayed. No one hindered him in prayer, and no one distracted him. He used this precious time with the Father to pray for people who were to listen to his words to understand them and carry them out in life. This, too, was one of the forms of the apostolate.
A 14-year-old girl from France learned that a well-known criminal was to be executed for the murder. As a good Catholic, she wondered what would happen to him after death. So she began to pray fervently for his conversion and persuaded her older sister to go to the priest and ask him to celebrate Holy Mass for the transformation of this man. A few days later, she learned from the newspaper that the criminal had turned before the execution. That girl was Saint Tereza from Jesus.
We also learn from the media practically daily about people to whom nothing is sacred, and they do evil deeds in the emptiness of their souls. Teresa advises us to include them in our prayers instead of indignation, swearing, and offense over their deeds. And even if we do not officially find out about their conversion, we may be glad that our prayer will not be in vain.
Let us try to put these people into prayer in the coming week, which will also be one of the forms of our apostolate.
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