This week’s Gospel reading is: Mark 6:30–34, 53–56
30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Some thoughts on the gospel lesson:
Our modern, Western society is in the midst of a famine. This is not about having enough to eat or drink. We don’t have enough of one very critical item, necessary for a strong, and well-balanced life. We are living in a terrible, terrible time famine. There is never enough time for all we need to do, all we want to do, all we feel we must do.
Each time we feel that we are catching up, we realize what has yet to be done. Additionally, we never seem to have enough time with the people and places that we truly love. The things that give us the most life seem to be the most rationed items in our lives. Is this famine a real thing or is it a manufactured shortage, a false peak in the on-going hike of faith?
Jesus knew that the work of carrying the gospel would wear on his disciples. The more they ministered to those in need, the more needs that would become visible to them. Their dedication to his work and to what they were seeing happen in God’s name meant that it was hard for them to stop, to listen, to rest. Jesus specifically sent them away to rest and to recover. Spiritual energy is exactly like physical and emotional energy. It waxes and wanes depending on use and rest. Jesus wanted the disciples to recharge themselves in the Spirit, so they would be renewed.
God has the same desire for we who are disciples today. We cannot take on task after task, strive toward goal after goal, work on project after project with no rest. We cannot be strong prayer warriors or immerse ourselves in the most difficult of scripture without varying our routine, taking a break, reading or praying something familiar, comforting, and nourishing for our souls.
The time famine is not real. There is not less time than there ever was. What is important now has always been important- loving God, loving ourselves, loving our neighbors. Each branch of that love is critical. One cannot shrivel at the expense of the other two. They are all work to which Jesus pointed the disciples and to which we are called. Rest and rejuvenation are expressions of service and love. Amen.