Take Time to Rest in the Lord by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
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 he 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.
We have great readings for a Sunday in the middle of July. Summer is a time to slow down a little, to re-create, to be renewed in the Lord. Sundays, in particular, are a day to give extra time to the renewal of our bodies and our souls.
In our Gospel, the disciples return from a mission trip to hear Jesus say: "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile." He could see they were exhausted and needed rest and renewal. Life can be grueling at times. Whether it's priestly life, family life, student life or work life, our everyday demands can really drag us down. When we go through an extended period of hard work, difficult decisions, taxing hours and little rest, we easily lose perspective and focus. We no longer see things as they really are. We fail to see the beauty in the people and things around us. We lose a sense of God - that He is in charge and is truly good.
For Jesus, "rest" is not just time to catch up on sleep or vegetate on the couch watching mindless television. That kind of rest does not bring true renewal because it neglects the needs of our soul. We have all taken a day off or come back from a vacation and had a clear sense that we were just as exhausted as when we started. True rest renews our spirit as well as our body. It restores hope, perspective and energy so that we can dive back into life with all of its many challenges. Good rest re-creates body and soul.
Jesus' role as the Good shepherd, a central theme in today's readings, fits well with this notion of "rest." In our sinful pride we too easily forget we need a Shepherd. We think we know the way; we think we have the answers and are in charge of our little corner of the world. Instead, we need to learn how to surrender to the wisdom and goodness of the Good Shepherd and let Him lead us to greener pastures.
Mark tells us that Jesus pitied the vast crowd, "for they were like sheep without a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things." When our bodies are tired, it is so easy for us to be confused and restless as well. Conversely, when our minds are filled with half truths and lies, and when we do not have a clear picture of the meaning of life and the high destiny of man created in the image and likeness of a loving God, we grow weary. At these times, we may find renewal in Christ, the way, the truth and life. We need to sit a Jesus' feet and allow our minds and hearts to be nourished at the table of God's word and of his Body and Blood.
So, what are you doing to rest properly this summer? Are you taking extra time for personal prayer? Are you getting to Mass more often? Are you doing some good spiritual reading? Are you studying the Scriptures and the great truths of our faith? Summer rest, including our vacations, should renew the body, the mind and the spirit. Take time to rest in the Lord this summer!
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