Year B: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 6: 30-34
There are two themes in today’s Gospel: the need for the disciples to go to “lonely place” where they could be by themselves for a while and the crowds following searching for a “shepherd” to lead them. The latter theme is picked up in the First Reading and so our focus will be on that need to take time apart to be by ourselves.
The Gospels often refer to Jesus’ going to quiet places in order to pray - and this is a habit that he obviously wishes to inculcate in his disciples. They are sent out to preach and to heal - but in order to sustain that, they need themselves to be refreshed and, where necessary, healed. They are called to an active - apostolic - ministry but Jesus shows that they also need a contemplative dimension in their lives. It is the harmonisation of “Martha” and “Mary” - not as opposite but as complementary aspects of being fully human.
Contemporary disciples are no different. In fact, in many ways, life in the technological-age is more frenetic for some than any age in the history of humanity. “Labour-saving” devices seem often to have made more time for more work. There are people who do not have time to eat - or feel that they cannot justify time to themselves - or time in leisure. Busy-ness can be worn as a badge of worthiness - I am busy therefore I am!
Some people do thrive on busy-ness - but it can also be a way of avoiding oneself. If I am doing this - keeping that appointment - juggling this with that - there is little time to address what may be a growing emptiness. As the outer world gets more and more cluttered - the inner reserves are gradually depleted. People become exhausted - suffer burn-out - or fall prey to breakdown and psychiatric illness.
We are created in the image and likeness of a God who took time off. We are taught by Jesus who, as in today’s Gospel, encourages his followers to rest and be renewed. We are inspired by a Spirit who bears fruits of gentleness, kindness and patience in our lives - qualities that being overly busy can squeeze out.
Taking time to relax and reflect is vital to the process of becoming fully human: it is not a luxury but a necessity. God delights in our creativity and accomplishments but, like any loving parent, delights too when His children let go and rest in His presence.
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring