16th Sunday OT-B – July 18, 2021

Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23; Eph 2:13-18; Mk 6:30-34

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”- Mk 6:31


Part 1: A Second Look at Prayer

How do you spend your day of rest and recreation? Surely the images of the beach, the pool, the games, the movies, the malls, and the bed, among other things come up immediately. Okay, that is the first look. Valid naman yang mga yan e. But let me offer you a side-b to r&r. Indeed, our r&r’s deserve a “second look.” Jesus invited His apostles to take r&r time. Not very clear whether He was with them or not, just by reading the one-liner invitation. You’d realize soon if you continue reading the passage that He went with them to rest and re-create hoping to leave behind temporarily the missionary activities. Rest and Recreation with God is prayer. K.J. ba ‘yon? If you are a Christian, it should not be. It’s a must.

Five Moments & Elements of Prayerful Rest

Re-Flection [Identity] (to reflect is to humble oneself and give a careful consideration of one’s identity; flectereto bend; to humble oneself)

“An un-reflected life is a life not worth living.”

 – Socrates (Classical Greek philosopher, c. 469 BC–399 BC)

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

– Peter F. Drucker (American Educator and Writer, 1909-2005)

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

 – Confucius (Chinese thinker and social philosopher, 551 – 479 BC)

Make sure that in yourSunday’s rest and recreation considerable time is dedicated to reflection. Review your past week’s experiences, describe, analyse, evaluate and inform your learning to prepare you for more effective action in the following week.

Re-Habitation [Vision and Purpose] (to come home again; habitareto dwell) Rehabitation is not in the dictionary. I made it up to convey a prayerful desire to come home to God to be renewed and re-created into a being fully human and live, at peace with one’s own humanity. It is coming home to one’s vision and purpose in life. No single word seems to capture it.  I think a beautiful coming home prayer is

The Serenity Prayer

by Reinhold Niebuhr (American theologian, 1892-1971)

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed; Courage to change the things  which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

and supremely happy with You forever in the next.   Amen.

♥ Indeed, a coming home desire is expressed by our Psalm 23 today: Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.

Re-Habilitation [Empowerment] (to be enabled again, to be reaffirmed; habilitareto enable)

♥ If it were to re-create our being, R&R should empower, envigorate, re-build our spirits too!

Remember, God created the world by affirming it, giving it His good powerful words: Let there be…!

“Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.”-  Ralph Waldo Emerson (American essayist, philosopher and poet, 1803–1882)

“A joyful heart is the health of the body, but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.” (Prov 17:22, NAB)

 “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Prov 23:7, New American Standard Bible)

♥ What we think, we’ll eventually say and what we say is very powerful. We can speak words of life and we can speak words of cursing. The Bible tells us to guard our thoughts and mouths.

♥ Your Sunday’s day of R&R with your family and loved ones should not pass without you being re-affirmed by God: “You are mine!” and without you giving out affirmations to those around you. Then make it your daily re-hab program: empowering and enabling others thru affirmation. 

Re-Conciliation [Relationships] (to establish close relationships again; conciliareto call together; Gk kalein [variant klē-], to call; its suffix form kal-e is found in the word ecclesia, church.)

♥ Our 1st reading this Sunday refers to this gathering aspect of re-conciliation:

I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. (Jer 23:3)

♥ While our 2nd reading points out the relationship aspect of re-conciliation:

In Christ Jesus you, who once were far off, have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace… (Eph 2:13-14a)

♥ Sunday or any given day for R&R should be a day of reconciliation- a day of re-establishing connection with God and others. After all, life is nothing but relationships. Especially on a Sunday, coming to church is not just to fulfil an obligation. It is to renew relationships with God and one another. And this renewal calls for a celebration.

Re-Think and Re-Thank [Mission] Two different words: To think (in this context of rest) is to call to mind or remember. To thank is to express gratitude to. However, both verbs have the same root word! According to The American Heritage Dictionary they both come from the Old English thanc, meaning: thought, good will; and thancian, to thank, from Germanic thankaz, thought, gratitude, and thankōn, to think of, thank.

♥ What is this last moment and element of Prayerful Rest telling us? Two things: First, that the Eucharist (thanksgiving) is an active engagement of the mind (memory). The first thing we carry with us to the Eucharistic celebration, therefore, is a memory – a memory of your graces & blessings (including those that are disguised). Second, that in all our prayers (the Eucharist being the highest form of prayer), our thoughts, good will and gratitude are a must. Don’t pray without them. Whether these thoughts or memories are not “good” enough, or they may even be “hurting” ones, it doesn’t matter. Lift them all up unto the hands of God, Siya na ang bahala! Just don’t “pray” mindlessly, thoughtlessly! Do not babble as pagans do. Sayang ang opportunity mo.

Part 2: “Hook” on Prayer

     Hook is a 1991 family fantasy film directed by Steven Spielberg. It acts as a sequel to Peter Pan’s adventures, focusing on a grown-up Peter Pan who has forgotten his childhood. Peter Banning is a successful corporate lawyer with a wife and two children. Captain Hook kidnaps his two children, thus Peter Banning must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit as Peter Pan in order to challenge his old enemy.

     Clearly, the movie is not about prayer. It is not even religious nor spiritual. But years ago, when I saw it while on a plane coming back home to the Philippines, it made me reflect on ‘my own coming home’ – incidentally, I was literally flying home! I saw in Hook bits and pieces of my life, and maybe yours too, dramatized by Peter Pan Banning: of our struggles with growing up, with owning our shadows and with prayer in general. The clip highlights some of these moments.

Sólo Dios basta

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing cause you fear. All things pass. God is unchanging. Patience obtains all: Whoever has God needs nothing else.  God alone suffices.”

This poem, found as a bookmark in St. Teresa’s prayer book, tells of her complete trust in God. Read this “bookmark” several times as a way of readying your head, heart and hands to receive and send the happiest of thoughts: God Alone Suffices! ♥