The disciples had been sent out by Jesus, two by two, to teach and heal and to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and now they have just returned...filled with the Gospel excitement, and Jesus invites them to come away with him for a while and rest.
Whenever I read this passage, I imagine that this time away was meant for the disciples to reflect on what they had experienced and to allow the meaning of it all to settle into their hearts. There are many references in all four of the Gospels that Jesus often went off to deserted places to pray. It seems that he was training the disciples to do the same. He knew firsthand the dynamism of the Good News and the energy it took to proclaim it.
And so, like the disciples, we too are invited to “come away with Him for a while and rest.” But this is no easy thing to do in the midst of “our harried and hurried lives”…just think of the 24 hour news cycle that bombards us and assails our sense of justice and Christian ethical behavior across the political and social spectrum of our society. So many of us stand amazed and appalled at the total lack of care and compassion of our fellow human beings being demonstrated not only by our elected officials but by ordinary citizens who feel emboldened to disrespect the human dignity of our sisters and brothers whom they look down upon and believe to not belong here or that someone has less value because of the color of their skin or their ethnicity and therefore do not deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
In the midst of all of this inhumanity and unchristian activity we are called to action but like Jesus called the disciples to take time “to come away for a while”. We need to come away and pray in order to keep ourselves centered in Christ. By making time in our day for prayer and meditation we can keep centered and not be overwhelmed by the vitriol and violence so as not to be paralyzed into non-action. On the contrary by remaining centered in Christ through our prayer and meditation we are energized and emboldened and moved to loving action, reaching out to the victims and to the perpetrators, to be a healing presence in the midst of a hurting and wounded world.
And so for me it raises questions; when was the last time I stepped out of the rush of my life to just sit and pray and meditate, “to come away with the Good Shepherd”? Did I gain any insights, did I feel refreshed afterwards? What do I need to change in my schedule, so I can spend more time resting with God?