*This blog was written as a bulletin insert for the small parish where I have served as Director of Religious Education for the past two years.
Jesus gives some sage advice to his apostles in today’s gospel (Mark 6:30-34). After listening to everything they have “done and taught”, Jesus tells them to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus recognized the stresses in their work and how they could not even find time to eat in the midst of all the people making demands on their time. Jesus stepped away to pray quietly and rest before returning to his ministry work with the crowds. He asks the same of his apostles and of us too. We need to keep a good balance in our lives between work, play, rest and prayer.
In today’s society work and being “so busy” is glorified. How many times have you heard a friend say, “oh, I am so busy” or you say yourself to a dinner invitation, “I can’t I am so busy” and then you embark on your long ‘to do’ list. Being busy has almost become a status symbol. The busy person is more valuable. We all know the saying, ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person.’ Jesus is challenging this mindset with his request for the apostles to “rest a while.”
Rest is different from play or prayer. Rest draws you away from that place which causes the mind to race with things to do. Rest helps to gain perspective with every other part of life. Rest gives you the opportunity to simply BE. Sadly, we often short change ourselves in this area by not placing much importance on it. One of the best ways to “rest” is to go away on a retreat and once having experienced a good retreat the response I hear is often, “I should have done this sooner in my life!” Time away, time to rest, gain perspective, listen to God and simply be with Him without expectations gives a gift to ourselves, and others, like no other gift.
When I first started in ministry I remember hearing in a homily, “if you give God just a little, you will be amazed how He takes care of every detail and gives you so much more than you ever dreamed of or imagined.” Since January of 2008, I have come to find this to be proven true time and again. Stepping away for just a weekend allows so much more to be done, much more than if the choice was made to stay home. Working in retreat ministry, I have seen people walk in the door on a Friday evening with heavy burdens and just 48 hours later as they get ready to leave; they are recharged, ready to tackle any issue with renewed energy.
So, dear parishioners, as I leave you this week to accept the position of Associate Coordinator of Retreat Ministry at St Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center on the South Side of Pittsburgh, I thank you for your gracious welcome, delicious gifts of food, and joyous laughter as we walked together always toward the Lord. Please be assured of my continued prayers and know you are always welcome (and encouraged) to come for a visit, even stay for a while. Please bring a nut roll or two, because yours are the best in town, and know you will always be given a special welcome at the Passionists, that place where you can find rest.