4th Week of Ordinary Time (9th February, 2019)
First Reading: Heb 13:15-17, 20-21
Gospel: Mk 6:30-34
Today indeed we have a very comforting message for us which Jesus had given to his disciple while being with them. The comforting message is, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while”. Once a famous philosopher said, the most of the disorder and evils in life are the result of main’s inability to sit still and think. God created Sabbath for this very purpose so that man after all the toil and hard labour throughout the week may be able to have care for one’s and draw strength from the Lord by worshiping him as well as spend his time with his family. Thus, it serves to develop intimacy with both God and one another especially with one’s own family. Our life is not entirely on and for others. It is necessary therefore that we take time to sit back and stand apart from all busy schedules that usually and completely consume us. It is like when we are advised by the flight attendant who would say, “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping our neighbor”. And it is only reasonable that one must first save oneself to save others from any danger.
The gospel of today invites the disciples to come away to a deserted place. In fact, desert was a place where Jesus himself entered before he began his ministry on the earth. We see this in the Old Testament too where the Israelites passed through desert on their journey to Promised Land. We see the Prophet Elijah too remained in the desert for several days. The desert in the ordinary sense is a lone place but it is also a place where God provides renewal. So in the biblical sense, it becomes a place where God provides renewal and energy to stay closer to Him.
There is another significant meaning about the ‘desert’ place mentioned in today’s Gospel. It is that there are no lone places as such because God is there everywhere. Even in the solitude God is there. Even at our death in the tomb God is there. It is only that we should have trust in Him that God is with us always. Our prayers should be to have courage to be with Him. For most often we fear loneliness. We fear aloneness. For this reason, we occupy ourselves with too many things to avoid this fear of loneliness.
Pope Francis during the International meeting f priests at the end of Year for Priest, while pointing out the need to recognize that we have our own limitations and that we can’t do everything alone and therefore we need to allow ourselves to be helped resting at the right times gave this advice, “Even this is a pastoral work: to find and to have the courage to rest” he indeed underlined the fact that it is important to rest a while still responding to the needs of His people. We therefore need to stay a while in the deserted place for ourselves so that we may be filled with the presence of Christ to love and serve Him as well as one another as the disciples were called to. Amen.