Last autumn, as people considered a return to travel, Southwest Airlines relaunched its decade-old humorous advertising campaign, “Wanna Get Away?” These silly promotional spots gave us a reason to smile, because the ads showcased people with a sense of humanity and heart.
In today’s gospel (Mark 6: 30-34), the theme of getting away is front and center. Mark delights in showing us the upstanding qualities of Jesus, which reveal his humanity and heart.
Humanity: Jesus cares for his disciples
The gospel reading opens with the twelve disciples returning from their long missionary journey. At that time in history, these men walked from town to town. They would have been exhausted from the weather, dusty, hungry and very tired. Although the crowds following them were growing in great numbers, Jesus realized that the disciples needed rest – they needed to get away. Jesus tells his disciples to “withdraw privately to a solitary place.” Jesus knows the power and importance of prayer, and wants to take time to talk with God. Quiet time is incredibly beneficial. Getting away will enable the men to feel refreshed, fortified and strengthened. This decision reveals Jesus’ compassion and care for his disciples. Jesus intends to take them to a secluded place to be alone, away from the demands of service, and rest for a while. While Jesus encourages physical rest, he also foreshadows the importance of mental and spiritual rest that will be needed in the future, when his disciples embark on their gospel ministry and go out into the world. Jesus teaches us that being rested and ready to do God’s will help us serve others.
Heart: Jesus responds to the crowd
Jesus is moved by compassion to meet the needs of thousands of people who want to hear his teaching. Although the twelve disciples were tired, hungry and needed time with Jesus, he was not frustrated or angry because the crowd had interrupted their rest. Instead, he felt compassion toward them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus satisfied their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things, thus gradually becoming the shepherd of a new Israel, the new people of God. We are like the people in this crowd, always seeking and finding Jesus. In this gospel reading, Jesus demonstrates leadership through his vision, strategy, teaching, care and coordination of his ministry. He is gradually revealing himself as the Good Shepherd.
Wanna Get Away?
Today, in our hectic world, we need to put the words “get away” into practice. It’s important to slow down and rest. During his ministry, Jesus practiced getting away and praying by himself. Let’s follow his example. Instead of making busy-ness a badge of honor, let’s put some balance in our life by getting away with Jesus.
During the next few weeks of July and August, let’s all try to get away and rest. For each of us, getting away may be somewhat different. By quieting ourselves, we will be able to direct our hearts and minds to God. Let’s also look to Sundays as an opportunity to get away. Sundays at Saint Anne Catholic Community can be the highlight of our week as we rest in God, attend Mass, sing hymns, receive the Eucharist and encounter our fellow parishioners.
God, help me to find true rest in you. You are the source of all that is good!