7th Sunday after Pentecost
Come away and rest a while – Mark 6:31
In the mist of summer we find ourselves longing for time apart, where we can rest. Jesus calls us, and his disciples, to take such moments for contemplation. His life was woven with prayer, but in our gospel reading today, he cannot find peace. Crowds of people hurry ahead and surround him and the disciples. “We have needs! We want healing! Let us touch the fringe of your garment. Pay attention to us!”
Jesus does not summarily dismiss them. He is compassionate, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. He makes himself available to them and in their interaction with him, they’re healed. Sometimes we rush into a situation which promises us that our life will be changed, healed, or renewed. Perhaps we gather around famous musicians or leaders, hoping to have the person look at us – notice us – with a expectation that our lives will be immediately improved.
It’s very exciting to shake the hand of a celebrity, but it doesn’t really change who we are in any essential way. It’s an empty promise. The celebrity moves on to someone else and we’re alone. The attraction of a noted person, hyped by media, leads us astray.
When Jesus sees the needs of people, he responds with compassion. He knows how we are easily distracted, inclined to crowd around whatever person or event has captured our attention. We, his sheep, are rushing and gathering, bumping and circling around him, wanting his attention.
He doesn’t respond with impatience, but with understanding. He might rather have pushed us away, irritated. But he knows our hearts and our inclination toward short-term goals and faulty distractions. He doesn’t cast us off, but brings us into the circle of love and healing. And in his caring, we can be still and rest.