OT XVI [B] Jer. 23:1-6, Eph 2:13-18, Mk 6:30-34
According to a Greek legend, in ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little boys. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity.
Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, "Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bows implies."
The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, "If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it."
People are also like that. That's why we all need to take time to rest. Start by setting aside a special time to relax physically and renew yourself emotionally and spiritually. You will be at your best for the Lord if you have taken time to loosen the bow.
Today’s Gospel passage presents the sympathetic and merciful heart of Jesus who lovingly invites his apostles to a desolate place for some rest. Jesus had sent his apostles on their first mission, which was one of healing, teaching and preaching. When they returned, they were no doubt exhilarated by the experience. They had witnessed at first hand the power of God’s Word. Nonetheless, they were hungry, exhausted, and in need of rest, both physical and spiritual. In fact, Jesus was eager to hear about their missionary adventures as they proudly shared their experiences. But Jesus, too, was in need of a break from the crowds who were constantly pressing on him, demanding his attention and healing. Hence, he led the Apostles by boat to a “deserted place” on the other side of the Lake for a period of rest and sharing.
By stopping and taking breath we can gain more strength for our daily activities. That is why Jesus led the Apostles away to a deserted place. One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had. "I don't get it," he said. "Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did."
"But you didn't notice," said the winning woodsman, "that I was sharpening my ax when I sat down to rest."Taking time we need to sharpen our spiritual weapons to fight against the forces of evil in our life and the world.
In this day we have so many devices to save time. Yet, never before have we seen so many hurried and restless people! If the computer, the laptop, the cellular phone, and all of these other technological wonders are suppose to save us time, why do we have so little time for the things that matter?
Today's man is in constant danger of becoming enslaved by the very things that were supposed to make his life more convenient. No matter where he goes, his work goes with him. It seems that with all we've accomplished, about all we have really added is speed and noise. We get there faster, but we don't know where we are going. And when we get there, we're out of breath.
Once a man swallowed an egg whole. He was afraid to move because he was afraid it would break. But he was afraid to sit still because he was afraid it would hatch. There are a lot of people like that today--so frenetic, so pressured they don't know which way to go. It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way. Check if we are running faster, it means we have lost our way.
A story is told about some African workers who were hired to carry heavy equipment on their backs to a remote outpost. It was a place that couldn't be reached any other way but on foot. After several days of difficult travel, the workers refused to pick up their packs and go any further. They sat by the side of the trail ignoring the shouts of the leader of the expedition. Finally the leader asked why they wouldn't go on. One of the workers replied, "Sir, we are waiting for our souls to catch up with our bodies." We need to slack down and let our souls to catch up with our bodies that they are together back again. Our bodies may be running faster, but the soul which is not in a rush takes its time. So, slow down couple of times a day to get the soul catch up with you. Many of us do critically important work and find ourselves exhausted. Yet we don't rest.
The disciples have returned from their travels, but the pace has not slackened. As the Gospel reports, “Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Does that scene sound familiar to us? Is our workplace like that? Is our home like that? Many are coming and going, and they have no leisure even to eat. Do we have some time to eat some spiritual food in an unhurried manner? Let’s accept the invitation of the Lord today, to come away to a deserted place and spend some time with him.