Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The short gospel reading shows us how concerned Jesus was for the disciples, who seem to be physically exhausted after being out on the missionary job. Saint Mark says that there were so many people making demands on them that they didn't even have time to eat, so Jesus himself takes them over and allows the disciples to carry on resting[1].

Of course Jesus knew from his own experience how the disciples felt. So many people came to him that he often had to escape and go off by himself to rest, to pray and to get his energy back. Saint Mark doesn't try to hide the fact that even Jesus was tired just like anyone else. We can remember the episodes where we see the Lord seated at the well of Sychar or asleep on the boat[2].

We must recognize on this break from the Lord and His disciples a clear invitation to rest; whatever we're doing most of the time we can still get tired like them so that we need to take a rest.
Some Christians are tempted to think that if we're going about our spiritual lives the right way God gives us a sort of boundless energy for activity. The truth is that this could be a little bit presumptuous.

It's wiser to be more humble and to admit to ourselves that occasionally we suffer the same weariness and lack of energy as everyone else. Jesus didn't make the mistake of thinking he could carry on, indefinitely, without any kind of break, so neither should we.

The other way in which Jesus' attitude is relevant to us today is that it challenges the hostility that exists in our culture in our society to the idea that quiet and stillness and just doing nothing are valuable in themselves and sometimes even necessary.

Over the last twenty years or so our society moves on constant activity and restlessness. Some people seem to feel guilty if they're not permanently exhausted. The reality is that freedom from activity and stimulation gives us time to think things through and reflect about things in a way we can't do if we're busy all the time. And even worst: some people now seem to get some intolerance to peace and quiet. If they've got nothing to do, they panic. Almost immediately they become bored and restless.

My brother, my sister we all need some free time to recuperate our energies, not just so that we can carry on our work better but so as to maintain a sense of balance and inner equilibrium. The feeling of being buried under a mountain of "things to do" gradually has a destructive effect on our personality: it causes depression and sometimes anger and aggression. In our gospel passage today Jesus is concerned that the disciples withdraw for a period so as to get some quiet and rest. Our Lord promotes leisure and relaxation because the more exhausted we are, the more difficult it is to pray or to keep up any kind of devotional practice or regular contact with God.

The temptation, when we're busy and agitated, is to put off praying or turning to God in a state of quiet and relaxation. So there are all kinds of reasons why quiet, rest and leisure are important factors in our spiritual life.

          A few days ago the Pope was at Castel Gandolfo, a small town near Rome, to spend a few days off, and from there said something that I want to share with you this morning: «I would like to recommend that during this time of vacation, you revivify your spirits by contemplating the splendors of Creation. Parents, teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the majesty of the Creator! Each of us needs time and space for meditation, reflection and calm ... Thank God it's so! In fact, this requirement tells us that we are not made only for work but also to think, reflect, or simply to follow a story with our minds and hearts, a story that we can connect with, in a sense 'get lost' in to then find ourselves enriched» ■

[1] Sunday 22nd July, 2012, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: Jeremiah 23:1–6. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want—Ps 22(23). Ephesians 2:13–18. Mark 6:30–34 [St Mary Magdalene].
[2] Cfr John 4:1-42. 

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris