Come away and rest awhile
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2015
There was a cute commercial on TV over the winter months. It showed a series of kids, talking to their parents, but looking at us, the viewing audience, and making a desperate plea to their moms and dads to TAKE MORE VACATION! The sponsor was obviously the travel industry. In fact, researchers tell us that in 2014, 42% of Americans took no vacation days. There are a number of reasons for this trend, each somehow related to the unreasonable expectations that employers, intentionally or unintentionally, place on workers, together with the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves. Even when we aren’t actually “at work,” we are connected to it by cell phone and computer. At a minimum, for most of us, work is “always on our minds.” It was only after I retired that I came to appreciate how damaging to the human person this total commitment to our work can be…even when we enjoy what we do…even when our work is ministry and discipleship!
Pope Francis recently coined a word for what appears to be the underlying cause of an unbroken chain of workdays: “RAPIDIFICATION” The Holy Father writes: The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”…the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find the disciples returning after an intense, draining, but highly successful assignment. Success can be addictive. Is it possible that after sharing all that they had accomplished, they said to Jesus: What’s next? We’re ready to get back out there! What do you have for us? Let’s get going; there’s lots to be done!
No one was more aware of all of the work to be done than Jesus Himself. Still, the Lord’s response to their “progress report” was simply this: Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while. And so the Good Shepherd gathered His flock and took them on a boat ride, and they had PEACE!
Hard as it is to believe, it is the middle of July, and RAPIDIFICATION…finances, job insecurity, unreasonable employers…any number of things…might mean that you’ve not been able to TAKE A VACATION! But do you at least allow yourselves one hour of PERFECT PEACE? Clearly, that is at the center of our Second Reading where St. Paul urges the Ephesians to take full advantage of Christ’s great gift to us…PEACE!
Back in the 14th century, St. Catherine of Siena wrote something that seems particularly relevant to our 21st century lifestyles. I certainly want to search out the way (to peace), because we have fallen into such danger and harm both spiritually and physically. And I don’t see any other way but one…I mean the holy way! The “holy way” is to make Sunday Mass a priority no matter what. It is one hour a week in which you can join with other disciples in accepting Jesus’s invitation: Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile. There is nothing unreasonable about insisting on one hour of PERFECT PEACE in a week filled with demands and stress. If you’re reading this reflection, you probably have made Eucharist a priority in your life…so why not extend the invitation to someone who hasn’t. Invite a friend to Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.