JESUS AND HIS APOSTLES TAKE TIME TO REST.
Saturday, 4th week
of Ordinary time.
30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
- vv. 30-31 We can see here the intensity of Jesus’ public ministry. Such was his dedication to souls that St Mark twice mentions that the disciples did not even have time to eat (cf. Mk 3:20). A Christian should be ready to sacrifice his time and even his rest in the service of the Gospel. This attitude of availability will lead us to change our plans whenever the good of souls so requires.
- But Jesus also teaches us here to have common sense and not to go to such extremes that we physically cannot cope: “The Lord makes his disciples rest, to show those in charge that people who work or preach cannot do so without breaks” (St Bede, In Marci Evangelium expositio, in loc.). “He who pledges himself to work for Christ should never have a free moment, because to rest is not to do nothing: it is to relax in activities which demand less effort” (St. Josemaria, The Way, 357).
- v. 34 Our Lord had planned a period of rest, for himself and his disciples, from the pressures of the apostolate (Mk 6:31-32). And he has to change his plans because so many people come, eager to hear him speak. Not only is he not annoyed with them: he feels compassion on seeing their spiritual need. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). They need instruction and our Lord wants to meet this need by preaching to them. “Jesus is moved by hunger and sorrow, but what moves him most is ignorance” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, 109).
- At these times of real bodily weariness, Jesus is also redeeming mankind; and his weakness should help us to bear our own weakness and to co-redeem with him. How consoling it is to see our Lord exhausted! How close Jesus is to us at these times!
- As we carry out our duties, as we generously go about our professional work, as we unstintingly use up so much of our energy in apostolic initiatives and undertakings of service to others, it is natural that fatigue appears as an almost inseparable companion.
- Far from complaining about this inescapable reality, a reality that is common to all of us, we have to learn to rest close to God and to exercise ourselves constantly in that way of thinking. O Jesus! I rest in you (St. Josemaria, The Way, 732), we can often say inwardly as we seek our support in him.
- No one understands our tiredness better than Our Lord, because He himself was constantly in situations similar to our own. We must learn to recover our strength close to him. Come to me, he says to us, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt 11:28).
- We make our burden lighter when we unite our tiredness to that of Christ, offering it up for the redemption of souls. We will find it helps us if we live charity in a purposefully pleasant way towards those around us, even if at those particular times we find it a little more difficult to do so.
- And we must never forget that the use of leisure also is an activity that we must sanctify. Those periods of diversion should not be isolated inertial gaps in our lives, or be seen as the chance to allow ourselves some purely selfish compensation for our exertions. Love does not take holidays.