Jeremiah 23, 1-6 + Psalm 23 + Ephesians 2, 13-18 + Mark 6, 30-34 + St Francis of Assisi Parish, Castle Rock, Colorado
The Gospel of Saint Mark is in many ways an instruction manual for disciples of Jesus Christ. Every detail of the Gospel; the stories, parables, exorcisms, healings, and everything Jesus says is preparation for what he will say at the end: “GO!” Last week he sent the twelve out on a practice run, so to speak. After making sure that they took nothing, were focused on their mission, trusting only him he gave them power and authority. I always like to think it was the power of love and the authority of humility. Unlike the kind of power and authority we find abused by too many on this earth, love and authority are effective, and so the apostles come back reporting success with the consequence that people were coming and going in great numbers.
Now it’s back to more instructions because going out to teach, to heal, and to confront evil is not all they must do. In fact, if they do these things well, something more will then be very necessary to remember, and we get that today. There seems to be four parts to what Jesus says to us here: 1) Come away, 2) Deserted Place, 3) By yourself, 4) Rest. These are important for a disciple’s balanced life.
Jesus does not say, “Go away”, he says, “Come away.” The difference is that he will come with him. He is not sending away, but calling them to himself. This is the Jesus who refreshes our souls, the Jesus whose burden light. This relationship is important, and just as parents sometimes need their time together as loving spouses away from the children, so do we all need to make sometime away with Jesus Christ.
It is a deserted place that he suggests, a place where no one else is to be found. In a deserted place there is no WI FI, no texting. There is no email, voice mail, radio, tv, or Facebook. There is nothing to make noise, or fill the space. It is deserted. By yourself means exactly that. It is 1 on 1 time with Christ who has called you to be his own.
Resting for a while is not laziness. It does not take all day. It is temporary. It’s for a while. But, for that while, it is about rest. You do not do something else for a change, you do nothing. I often call it “staring” either at the inside of your eye lids, or just at the sky. When we do not rest, we cannot take care of others because resting is taking care of ourselves. Do that first. Not all the time, just “for a while.” If we do not slowdown in this life, it will be over before we know it, and we will be of no use to anyone, especially God.
Even God has done this reports the writer of Genesis. Later it was called “Sabbath” for in God’s wisdom it became part of the covenant as one of the commandments. Divine wisdom is revealed through the Word, Jesus Christ who is forming not just the twelve, but any of us who have been called to be his presence and continue his work on earth.