Saturday of 4th Week of the Year, February 04, 2023

In a final exhortation, the author of Hebrews sums up what he had said for the practical living of Christians. This is the blessing he wishes to his people.
What a pity if our world would become so heartless as to do away with compassion? We hear in today’s Good News that God shows in Jesus that he cares for us with a love deeper and more tender than that of a mother for the child to which she had given life. He is particularly close to those who need him most: the weak, those who suffer, the abandoned, and those who count for nothing. That is the love he showed us in Jesus; that is the love he invites us to have for one another: deep, tender, lasting, and not afraid of showing itself.

Opening Prayer
Our loving God,
your Son Jesus, has revealed you to us
as more warmhearted, tender and compassionate
than any mother could ever be.
Be near to all who are wounded in life,
care for the little people trampled upon.
Make all those who follow your Son
people who can forgive and heal,
who make themselves like nourishing bread
for all who are hungry in any way.
Make us care for one another
as you care for us through Jesus,
your Son and our Lord for ever. Amen!

1 Reading HEBREWS 13:15-17, 20-21
Brothers and sisters: Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Responsorial PSALM 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul. R.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage. R.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. R.

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. R.

Alleluia JOHN 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MARK 6:30-34
The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 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. 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 Jesus 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.

Please! Go and Rest!
This is what the Lord is telling me and many of us today: “You are busying yourself on unnecessary things. You don’t have sufficient rest, and you spoil your health – of body and mind. Please, go and rest!”
We are living in a busy world. We are often too busy with our work, struggles to climb up the ladder, or even our genuine efforts to serve others. Our busy schedules are often at the cost of our relationship with the family, our own health and, more importantly, our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus tried to make a retreat, but he couldn’t get away. Does it sound familiar? God reveals the nature of a concerned Father and invites us to rest amidst our frenzy of life and work in this busy world. He tells his disciples: “Go off by yourselves to a remote place to have some rest.”
“Go and rest,” the Lord invites us. What would he say to us today? He might say, “You poor thing, you are wrecked from overwork! Like the seventy-two, you hardly have time to eat! The world hasn’t got any wiser in twenty centuries. My friend, please go and rest!” In today’s reading, we see the Twelve returning from their mission. Obviously, they had not done anything similar earlier. He told them they needed to rest: to rest and to be silent.
We find Jesus himself moving away for his personal time with the Father. Scattered here and there through the gospels are verses that tell us volumes about Jesus on his retreat. “When daylight came, he left the house and made his way to a lonely place” (Lk 4:42). Another is Mk 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” See also Lk 5:16, “He would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.” And Lk 6:12, “He went out into the hills to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.”
How busy are you today? Why not take a break… Go with the Lord for a time of rest!

– That we may be grateful to God for all the mercy and compassion he shows us, we pray:
– That God’s people may learn to be a compassionate community to all those who suffer and to those who are trampled upon, we pray:
– That we may be people of peace, who try to understand one another and seek reconciliation when we are divided, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, compassionate Father,
in these signs of bread and wine,
we welcome your Son, Jesus Christ,
as our Good Shepherd who died for us,
to give direction to our life.
Let us feel how much he is familiar
with our weariness and our miseries,
that he listens when we turn to him,
that he is present when we need him.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
Our loving and caring God,
we thank you with all our hearts
for giving us a sure guide,
who feels with us
and knows where he leads us,
your Son, Jesus Christ.
Keep giving to your Church today
pastors in the image of your Son.
Let them be full of compassion and vision,
sensitive to people and their needs,
open to the demands and potentials
of the Gospel and of our times.
Make them good shepherds
in the image of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!

In the Bible, to have compassion means literally “to feel in the depth of one’s bowels.” We would say in the depth of our heart. To be close in fidelity and compassion to others. That is God’s way with us. Let it be our way with one another, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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