Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Little Something Extra...Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Come Away...

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

The disciples had just returned from the mission we heard about in last Sunday's Gospel. They had traveled around in pairs, preaching about repentance, curing the sick, driving out demons, and actively participating in Jesus' saving ministry. When they returned, they were beyond excited. Can you picture them tumbling over each other and pouring out a stream of words as they tried to tell Jesus all the wonderful things that had happened?

Now envision Jesus' response. Did He smile indulgently at their enthusiasm? Might He even have chuckled as they all spoke at once, each one trying to tell his story first? He probably let them chatter on for a while, enjoying their eagerness and complimenting them on their successes.

But Jesus knew that His disciples needed something more. They needed an opportunity to calm down and to experience the peace and quiet that would balance the activity of their ministry. They needed to prayerfully settle back into the Father's loving arms.

They certainly wouldn't get what they needed where they were. Word had spread about Jesus and His disciples. People were talking, telling one another about the miracles and about this strange and wonderful message spread by these traveling men. Many were coming and going around them, trying to see for themselves what was going on. Some were curious, some hopeful, some even desperate. They were all looking for something.

Jesus wanted to help these people, but He knew that the disciples needed rest, so He told them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while."

The crowds surrounding Jesus and the disciples were persistent. When they saw the men climb into a boat to make their way across the lake to a deserted place, they hit the trail on foot, hurrying around the lake, picking up more people in nearby villages. They arrived at the deserted place (which was no longer deserted) even before Jesus and the disciples made it there in the boat!

When Jesus looked toward the shore, He saw a vast crowd. But He wasn't angry. He didn't get upset that His plan for a little down time hadn't worked out. He gazed upon all those people, all with needs and problems and fears and heartache, and He pitied them. They were like sheep without a shepherd, searching for someone to guide and protect them. He began to teach them many things.

As you meditate on today's Gospel, try to answer the following questions:

1. Have you ever been filled with enthusiasm to spread the Gospel? If so, think about that experience. What led to your excitement? How did you express it?

2. When do you take time to come away from your busy life and be quiet with Jesus?

3. What are you looking for in your life? What are you seeking from Jesus?

4. Are you persistent in following Jesus? Why or why not?

5. Do you bring Jesus all your needs, problems, fear, and heartache?

6. What do you need to learn from Jesus?

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