The Deserted Places

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 6:30-34.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught. 
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat. 
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. 
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.


Reflection

They were doing so well it was overwhelming. The apostles who were sent to share in the mission of Jesus were filled with joy at what they had accomplished through Jesus’ authority. Even with the great good they have done, more still was left to be desired. People were coming and going in great numbers they did not even have the time to eat.

Jesus asked His apostles to retreat to a “deserted place” in the midst of all these activities. Even Jesus recognized that working for the Kingdom must be matched with a well-deserved rest. Deserts in the Bible are always places of encounter with God. The silence and solitude of the desert leads one to focus on the one thing necessary in the Kingdom.

When we begin to think that Christian life is all about doing works of charity, let this Gospel reading remind us of the more important thing. Christian life, as stressed by Jesus, is all about encountering God first. We have to be aware of where our deserted places are, so that from time to time, even in the midst of incessant activity, we can retreat and recharge in God. So that having encountered God in our desert, we too, like Jesus, return to the mission, hearts ready to be moved and limbs reading to take on the task of leading and teaching people towards their own deserted places.


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