Come away and rest

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

Rest. A break from all the bustle and activity. A chance to renew, to stop, to slow. An end, a pause from work, if only for a little while. An opportunity to stop doing that you may simply be. A space in time to process, reflect upon, think, pray, to listen. We have lives filled with so much activity, so much work, so many obligations that the very idea of rest is as though the Holy Grail itself. Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a complaint. I love my life, I love being in this parish. It’s more an observation that somewhere in all the things that make up a blessedly frenetic life, I think I’ve forgotten how to rest. It came to me last week as I stood in the very place where Jesus uttered those words to his disciples, realizing the deep need – and then someone on the tour asked, “Father, what do you think Jesus…” And the moment of my own musing and prayer passed. Continue reading

A Pastor’s Holiday

July is the traditional time for vacations, holidays, and trips as families and households visit relatives, relax, and take in different parts of our great nation. Normally I am around the whole summer, preferring to take time off in the autumn when temperatures are more moderate, but this year I had an opportunity to travel to the Holy Land with friends. I had never been and so it seemed an opportune moment that might never come around again. And so, on July 6th off I went, landing in Tel Aviv some 26 hours later. Continue reading

Life in mission: compassion

eremosA Heart Moved. 34 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.

It is easy to imagine the groan of despair that must have gone up from the exhausted disciples, when they saw, long before they had reached the other shore, that the inevitable curious crowd had followed and the possibility of rest was fading. It is probable that this natural weariness accounts for the note of irritation in their question to Jesus in v.37, as well as their obvious hint in v.36 that the crowds had had more than enough teaching already: “36 Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” Continue reading

Life in mission: exodus

eremosAnother Exodus. 31 People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. 32 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.

It seems as though Jesus and the apostles have attracted a large crowd of people. The short lake voyage, back to the old familiar surroundings of the sea, after tramping the dusty roads, must in itself have been a rest and relaxation for the Galilean fishermen. But the small size of the Sea of Galilee made it quite possible for the crowds, travelling along the shore, to outdistance the little ship, which probably had no favorable wind. Continue reading

Life in mission: rest

eremos30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. 31 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. 32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

The Return. At the conclusion of their mission to the Galilean villages the disciples returned to Jesus. He had commissioned them to be his emissaries (Ch. 6:7–13), and it is appropriate to this circumstance that they should report to him how they had fulfilled their commission. While the word “apostles” is accurately translated in v.30, there is a tendency in the modern reading to associate this with “the Twelve” and to associate the term with an official title. What might get lost is the whole purpose of what they were sent to go. Simply put they were missionaries. Continue reading

Life in mission: context

eremos30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. 31 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. 32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 33 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. 34 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. (Mark 6:30–34) Continue reading

Feast of St. Bonaventure

StBonaventureToday marks the Feast Day of one of the great figures in Franciscan history – St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio – as well as the ninth anniversary of our Franciscan presence in this historic downtown parish.  St. Bonaventure is a good model of what it means to be a Franciscan while at the same time being a priest in leadership positions in a parish.  Bonaventure reminded the friars of his day that our first vocation is as “brother.”  At the core of our charism, we are a fraternity in mission to the People of God striving to continue our Order’s 800-year-old mission:  bringing the Gospel into the everyday experience of men and women through our life in fraternity and compassionate service to all. Continue reading

Inviting and Beautiful?

If you have been following the last several pastor’s columns, you might have thought “this seems to be a series!”  And you would not be wrong. The series is not headed where I first thought, but such is the nature of creative writing. Two weeks ago, I wrote about “change.” There is perhaps nothing more intrinsic to Christian life than change. In spiritual circles we use the term metanoia, a Greek work taken directly into English: a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion (Merriam-Webster). If you think about the full Sermon on the Mount, there is a basic theme of change evident when Jesus says, “You have heard it said, but I say to you…” This is repeated several times as He explains that what you thought you knew about the 10 Commandments and the Law, is not what God intended. And then Jesus explains how God intended it to be. In that moment, Jesus offers a moment of metanoia, of change. Change can be challenging. But the Christian life is meant to be one of change, ever drawing closer to God in holiness, in wholeness, in teleois. Continue reading