The 16th Sunday of the Year
Jer 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mk 6:30-34 (Year B)
“The Apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.’ ”
Careful scrutiny of the Gospels reveals a frequently overlooked balance between mission and prayer, work and rest. In today’s Gospel we can readily imagine the excitement with which the Apostles reported to Jesus all that had been achieved on their first missionary journey. His immediate response to all this activity was to call his Apostles to “some lonely place”. There they would rest in his presence, the only true focus and foundation for all that they were to achieve.
Jesus was inviting them to follow the pattern of his own ministry. The hidden years at Nazareth that had preceded the ministry of Jesus were not lost years. They were surely lived out in the presence of the Father.
The 40 days in the wilderness that followed the baptism of Jesus were a period of discernment, led by the Spirit and lived with the Father. Such a communion lay at the heart of all that Jesus said and did in his ministry, a life-giving communion revealed in the saving power of his death and Resurrection.
We live at a time when success tends to be measured by activity with little time for prayerful reflection. Such time as we have to ourselves is frequently filled with the many distractions that clamour for our attention. Without prayer we are simply carried along by events, sometimes overwhelmed by their unfolding. Only in prayer do we find understanding and purpose.
This is beautifully illustrated in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Here Paul faced the ingrained hostility and suspicion that had divided Jews and Gentiles down the centuries. Within the newly formed Christian community at Ephesus he encountered the factions that strong personalities so easily engender. Only in the quiet communion of prayer was he able to understand and proclaim a presence that heals all division. “In Christ Jesus you that used to be so far apart have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us.”
Paul went on to explain that in his death Christ took to himself the hostility that destroys peace of mind and drives us apart. May we rest in Christ whose peace is the healing of troubled hearts and divided lives.
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