Read Mark 6:30-34
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. Read More…
Meet Sister Eileen Burns
Ministry: Executive Director, NDEC, Lawrence; 354 Merrimack St. Suite 210; Lawrence, MA 01843; USA Read More…
I recently attended a workshop at the Notre Dame Spirituality Center in Ipswich, Massachusetts, USA. It was called "Get Rooted: Body and Soul Wellness Retreat." We heard that "givers need to take time to renew" and "we need to recharge our vessels so that we can go out and do good later."
It sounds like the intent of Jesus in today's gospel. Jesus says to the Twelve. "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." Mark goes on to tell us, "People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off..."
Mark is a master in linking stories in his gospel. I found a link I never noticed before while praying on this and preparing to put some thoughts in writing. The echo line "People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat" has somehow escaped me before this. We hear it in Mark 3:20-21. "Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When Jesus’ relatives heard of this they set out to sieze him..." That gospel doesn't end well for his mother and family. Or, does it? Jesus stays seated in the circle and does not move out to join his family saying, "Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." It ends there and we don't know what kind of conversation the family had with Jesus when he eventually comes out to speak with them.
We do know a few things that happen afterwards in Mark. Jesus tells stories on how the reign of God grows over time like a sprouting seed in chapter 4. Jesus does a number of healings in chapter 5. He goes back to Nazareth at the beginning of chapter 5 and that does not go well. Did he also speak to his relatives again while he is there? Right after that, he sends the apostles out on mission in twos and presumably gets some rest himself while the Twelve are healing others and casting out demons. It is the time after they return that we are hearing of in today's gospel. Jesus has profited from his rest. He recognizes it is not healthy to live without any sabbath time and the importance of tending to body and soul wellness. Perhaps the seed in Jesus has grown and he thinks more like his relatives? We all need to do self care.
When they arrive at the deserted place, though, it is mobbed with people. And here is where we hear the echo of Mark 3 again. So, what is "the will of God?" Jesus’ heart is moved and he begins to teach and to minister to the people. God's will is compassion and Jesus embodies it. There is no question that we need to have compassion for ourselves but it must always be balanced with compassion for our neighbors. This is our Jesus. He is not out of his mind as his relatives feared when they went to find him to talk some sense into him. Jesus does seem to listen to them and act on what he has heard. Yet, this Jesus is always coming out of his heart and his love moves within us as well. So, be sure to make plans and take time for self-care as Jesus did while the apostles were sent out. But, also be attentive to the calls to serve even if it is not your immediate plan. The seed of God's reign within each of us has the potential to grow consistently!