Sunday, July 22, 2012
Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while (Mark 6:31)
“His heart was moved.” (Mark 6:34)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus was encouraged because the apostles had just returned from a very successful missionary trip. They had healed some people, delivered others from demons, and brought many to conversion. And yet, Jesus was discouraged as well. John, his friend and kinsman, had just been beheaded.
With this good and bad news on his mind, Jesus took a practical approach and invited the apostles and himself to get away for a time of rest (Mark 6:31). But a crowd of people followed, and Jesus changed his plans and began to teach the people. In a sense, you could say that the “practical” Jesus was replaced by the “compassionate” Jesus. He was able to see beyond his needs and the needs of his disciples because of his union with the Holy Spirit.
It wasn’t just Jesus whose eyes were open in this way. The apostles gave up their plans for rest as well. Then, after what could have been hours of teaching, Jesus told them to give the people something to eat (Mark 6:37).
Jesus wants us to be practical. He wants us to be ordered. He wants us to set goals and achieve them. But there are also times when he wants us to put our plans aside for the greater good. We can learn how to sense these movements from God so that the practical does not overshadow the compassionate and spontaneous. You may sense a prompting to speak to someone after Mass or in the grocery store. You may sense simply that God wants you to put your arms around your husband or child or that you should put aside what you are doing and read Scripture for a few minutes. Whenever something like this happens, try to act on it. You never know where it will lead you.
“Jesus, teach me to be open to your Spirit’s promptings. I don’t want to be so regulated that I can’t hear your voice or follow your leadings. Lord, I want to be flexible and open!”