In the name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Life-giving Spirit. Amen.
Jesus said, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while’ for many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31)
Rest . . .
Rest is so important in our relationship with God and God’s creation that He demands that we rest every week – it is clear in the ten commandments:
Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work – you, or your son or your daughter, or your male and female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. (Deut 5:12-14)
It was not only the God of the Old Testament that knew our need for a balanced life, but the God of the New Testament, Jesus, re-affirmed what we all know, but often forget . . .
‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ (Matt 11:28)
And many of the prophets new about this important aspect, if they didn’t do what we would consider to be resting, they would go away to a deserted place to be by themselves.
John the Baptist lived in the desert
the Israelites wondered in the desert
(away from the temptations of a pagan world)
Jesus Himself spent 40 days in the desert
and there are many more examples
It is vital if our relationship with God, and His creation, is to grow, deepen and flourish that we spend time resting, spend time away from the normal routines of life, life that can so often be hectic, chaotic, stressful, as well as distracting and tiring. This is not to say that life does not offer and often give us love, laughter, life-giving energy and friendship. But so often we forget the good side of life, or we conveniently forget that there is a hard, more difficult side to our lives and instead of facing that difficulty or hurt we suppress it, we hide it, we ignore it – and it doesn’t take a therapist to tell us that this is not good for us!
Not only are the words in our Gospel reading trying to tell us something, but throughout the bible the message is the same:
Be still, and know that I am God! (Ps 46:10)
Be still . . .
It sounds so easy, but the reality of life is that for many of us, and I do include myself in this, it is not possible to have a total rest day once a week – oh if only it was!
My experience as someone who often travels alongside people in their spiritual journey is that even 10 minutes of quiet each day, 10 minutes where one sits and is just being, can make all the difference in someone’s relationship with God – and that is something anyone can squeeze into their day. This 10 minutes is not intercessory prayer or saying Evensong or Mattins or even attending Mass – it is just 10 minutes of utter stillness with God.
So I invite you to take the words from today’s Gospel to heart.
‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’
Rest in God, rest with God . . .
Teresa Mary CSC