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

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

Everyone is looking for you

TheAnnunciationThe story of Job is the well-known biblical account in which a person’s life goes from prosperity and security, from joy to despair – and Job is the one who asks aloud what some of us only whisper – where is God in all of this? Job watches while his life unravels losing prosperity, family and feeling that the entirety of his life under assault. He has looked into his life and his heart, searching for his sin, then at least he imagines he can reconcile what has happened to him. But he is a blameless and upright man. Just when he thinks he had suffered and so much taken from him, then the assault encompasses his own body and he grows sick and covered with sores. No wonder he laments: My days … come to an end without hope. …. I shall not see happiness again. Continue reading

Come away

eremosThere are lots of studies that point to some truth in the adage that practice makes perfect – 10,000 hours of practice to be specific. It is a general number that is consistent across a variety of professions, sports, and skilled activities. Some recent studies in the Netherlands and England is that the benefits of practice are ongoing through the years – not just once a person has become proficient – and that once an elite performer reduces practice, their performance also declines because they practiced less. 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

Outside the camp

jesus-healing-leperHe shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” For me these are frightening and dreadful words. Spoken to a person in the wilderness, a person on the Exodus betwixt and between the slavery of Egypt and the promised land of Palestine. These are words spoken about brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers – now shunned to a life apart, a life without. No longer part of the only social fabric they had known. They are words which mean that you do not belong; and may soon not be remembered. Continue reading

Hands of compassion

TheAnnunciationThe story of Job is the well-known biblical account in which a person’s life goes from prosperity and security, from joy to despair – and Job is the one who asks aloud what some of us only whisper – where is God in all of this? Job watches while his life unravels losing prosperity, family and feeling that the entirety of his life under assault. He has looked into his life and his heart, searching for his sin, then at least he imagines he can reconcile what has happened to him. But he is a blameless and upright man. Just when he thinks he had suffered and so much taken from him, then the assault encompasses his own body and he grows sick and covered with sores. No wonder he laments: My days … come to an end without hope. …. I shall not see happiness again. Continue reading

Admonition Eighteen

Who among us wants to be considered condescending? Merriam-Webster defines “condescending” as showing or characterized by a patronizing or superior attitude toward others. I suspect no one is soon volunteering.  In the Franciscan tradition it is a good thing to be condescending or at least condescendere.  St. Bonaventure wrote about the condescendere of God in the Incarnation of Jesus who “stepped down” from his divinity, took on our humanity, took off his cloak and put on a servant’s apron and washed our feet.  It is from that “condescending” position we are called to reach up to our neighbors and serve them.  Such is the posture of compassion.

Admonition Eighteen: Compassion for a Neighbor

1 Blessed in the person who supports his neighbor in his weakness as he would want to be supported were he in a similar situation.

2 Blessed is the servant who returns every good to the Lord God because whoever holds onto something for himself hides the money of his Lord God within himself, and what things he has will be taken away from him.