[Portions of this Pastor’s Word are adapted from a Taize service and reflection held at Our Lady of Grace Monastery and Benedict Inn in Indianapolis]
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus finds it continuously difficult to get away from the crowds clamoring for his help. He is continuously pressed in upon, even while he tries to make some time and space for his own physical and spiritual well-being.
His public ministry begins in Capernaum where, on the first day, he cures many who are sick and casts out demons until late into the night. He rises early the next morning to go into the wilderness, a deserted place, where he can have quiet time in prayer. But the disciples track him down to tell him that everyone is looking for him, presumably because they want to be healed and helped.
When Jesus goes to his hometown the crowd is so persistent, he does not even have time to eat. After an exhausting day of teaching, he tells his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side [of the sea].” Exhausted, he falls asleep. But when a storm arises, they awaken him in a panic. Reaching the other side of the sea, he is greeted by a demoniac as soon as he steps out of the boat. Crossing back again to the other side, a great crowd awaits him on the shoreline. People grab at the hem of his robe in the crowds. Wherever he goes, his arrival is anticipated, his presence is recognized, and people clamor after him. How exhausted Jesus must have been! Perhaps if Dr. Seuss were to write the gospel, he’d say:
"Jesus cannot have quiet time on the boat;
nor in the crowds where they pull at his coat;
and he cannot have quiet in the remote.
The crowds await him on every shore,
they press and they holler “more, more, more.”
One can imagine that each time Jesus “crossed to the other side,” he hoped something more peaceful and restful might await him.
Can you relate?
Oh, how we would like to get to the other side of this summer: to the other side of this virus, to the other side of our civil unrest, to the other side of our economic woes. And yet, at each turn, we find more of the same… a frightened, hurting, desperate world in need.
I want to encourage you in this time to be true disciples of Jesus, learning to live like Jesus lived; seeking rest and prayer and balance, yet also being responsive to the needs of those around you. Rest as you are able. Pray! But do not grow weary in doing good and serving those in need… even though it may be physically and spiritually exhausting at times.
And, as disciples, cling to the other lessons we have learned in this difficult season:
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