The apostles have just returned from their first “missionary journey,” and they have much to report to Jesus. You can almost imagine the disciples’ excitement, and the care in Jesus’ voice as he invites them to “come away…to a deserted place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31). Yet when they are faced with a crowd, they forgo their rest and Jesus responds to the people as a shepherd would respond to his lost sheep. In this Gospel, we see Jesus setting two examples: his invitation to come away and rest, and his tender response to the crowds who have sought them out.
Ministering to God’s people is rewarding and exhausting. Whether lay or ordained, volunteer or paid, full-time or part-time, actively participating in the life of the Church requires a solid spiritual foundation, commitment, and energy. To live the Paschal Mystery is to enter into the rhythm of dying and rising in our everyday life. There are a number of times when the Gospels tell us that Jesus went away to a quiet place to pray and be with his Father. Perhaps it was one of these times that prepared him to meet this crowd. To live this rhythm as the reality of our life, it is important that we know the voice of the Shepherd, listen to what he has to say, and faithfully follow him. Just as Jesus knew his Father’s voice, we must know Jesus’ voice.
Today’s Gospel finds us in the middle of Ordinary Time, in the middle of the summer, a good time to pause and catch our breath. Finding the balance of knowing when to attend to our own needs and when to care for others is not easy to achieve. It sometimes seems when we are most tired physically and spiritually, that is the time when a phone call comes, a request is made, and we must draw a deep breath and respond as best we can. Learning to know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and looking to his example, will help us to discern when to do the good works and when to take rest.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Gaspar Masilamani, CMF