In the gospel we hear of the Apostles coming back from the mission on which Jesus sent them. We heard of that missioning last Sunday. Today we hear of the excitement that griped them. They were anxious to tell Jesus of the things they said and did, the reception they received or the lack of welcome they experienced. Each one was probably trying to top the other one’s story. At the same time too, they were drained. They were anxious as they left for their mission. Jesus would not allow them to take anything with them, they were to depend on the generosity and hospitality of those who welcomed them. They threw themselves fully into the work of preaching and healing. Now they are back and they are wiped. Even when they came home there was so much demand on their time and attention that they had no leisure even to eat.
Jesus makes the wise decision, get them away from it all. “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Give yourselves a break.
It was a tradition in the Passionist Community that when a priest preacher came home after preaching a series of missions or retreats he was dispensed the chapel observance, in other words he could sleep in in the morning. At meal time he was given a ‘mission plate’ A mission plate usually had pieces of fruit and a few cookies. It was a way of recognizing the work he had done and a way to help him regain his strength.
The invitation of Jesus to come away and rest a while is an invitation we should all accept. So many people live frenzied frantic and fractured lives. They are going in a thousand different directions. Through cell phones and blackberries they are available 24 -7. Only God can keep up such a pace but even God rested. As I’ve said before” cemeteries are full of indispensable people.
We all need time to take a brake. We all need time to be still. As a wise old woman once said, sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits. Scripture tells us that Jesus often slipped away and found a quiet place to pray, to talk with His Father. We need that too, a time to be still, a time to be silent, a time to pray. There is that great song in Jesus Christ Super Star when Mary Magdalene sings to Jesus, “Let the world spin without you tonight”. In other words ‘chill out’ these same problems will be around tomorrow, get some rest.
In the gospel of Matthew Jesus offers a wonderful invitation, ” come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you.” He’s saying “come to me and be undisturbed for a few minutes, let me relieve you for a time of the heavy loads you carry. Enjoy the stillness and quiet you find in me. As one concerned for our wellbeing Jesus want to free us from the things that bind us and weigh us down. Spending time in His presence, in peace and quiet is a way to unwind and be refreshed.
Jesus is always present to us, we are not always present to Him, we are distracted and preoccupied by so many things. Usually when we try to set some time apart to be still, to accept His invitation ‘ come to me” the first thing that comes to our minds is all the things we have to do, we’re tempted to believe that being present to the Lord is some kind of duty or burden and we are wasting valuable time.
Not so. How about trying this; promise yourself that every day, at some point in the day or evening you’ll set aside ten minutes and find your self a quiet place and be still. Fix your attention on Jesus and talk with Him as a friend, a friend who listens, a friend Who cares. Tell Him what worries you, what burdens you, what frightens you. Thank Him for the blessing in your life. Tell Him you want to experience the rest He offers. Give Him the problems you can’t solve, the pain you can’t heal, the desires you can’t control. Let your heart be open to the rest and peace He offers. This is not wasted time, this is a blessed time.
As we continue to offer this Eucharist we can pray for ourselves and for each other for the grace and wisdom we need to hear and heed Christ’s invitation – come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.