Jesus said to His disciples, “Come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.” They were tired by traveling every day, preaching, teaching, and healing. They worked with such diligence and zeal that they often didn’t get time to rest, eat or sleep. They continued carrying out their mission, in spite of their fatigue. When Jesus saw how tired they had become, he said to them, “Come with me to a quiet place and get some rest.” You see, Jesus himself found the demands of his public ministry to be physically, Spiritually and emotionally exhausting and he felt the need for rest. So he went with his disciples to a quiet place to rest for a while. The Bible says, “… they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
In our modern terms, we can say that Jesus and the disciples took a little vacation. They put their daily routines on hold and found a quiet place of serenity and peace to relax, restore and renew. Florida is blessed from the sandy beaches, and serene forests, to the Disney Land roller coasters. That is why people all over the world come to Florida to rest and relax.
Taking inspiration from today’s Gospel let us think of the importance to taking care of ourselves. Our physical, spiritual, and emotional health are all connected.
I will share our recent Camino experience and how the 10 pilgrims found unity, peace and happiness in the group and by themselves. Travelling as a group is always challenging. Because people have their own way of doing things, have attitudes which others may not like and so on. We had all those initial difficulties in the beginning to understand and appreciate each other. Our first goal was not to judge anybody but to try to understand and appreciate the other person. By listening to the stories of the other people, their traumas in life, the loss of their loved ones, hearing the struggles in their lives made us pray for them rather than making judgments against anyone. Everyone had a special intention for their pilgrimage. My prayer intention was for my sister Anna who has cancer. She lost her hair because of the chemo. The whole family shaved their heads to feel her pain. So I also shaved my head and did the pilgrimage. So too each pilgrim had prayer intentions and they were all praying for others during the walk.
We walked together and alone, laughed, we prayed, we offered mass together and in a few days we all felt the unity and peace among the pilgrims and slowly we started finding peace in ourselves. Our Camino experiences give us an insight into the reason for our stress and anxieties and felt the need of inner peace and happiness in ourselves.
What are the reasons for our worries, stress, and anxieties? For the last one year we are all going through difficulties of the Pandemic. Then our personal struggles, family problems, financial crisis, employment issues and so many other things make our life difficult.
How do we find peace and happiness in our lives? In this context Jesus’ invitation to take care of ourselves and to find peace in ourselves is very important. It is very important to take care of ourselves to better serve others. A healthy and pleasant Doctor can better serve the patients. The happy parents are a blessing for the family. Joyful children are the blessing to the family.
Jesus is extending the same invitation to us “Come with me.” He is inspiring us to take care of ourselves with Him. Let us learn from Him and invite Him to “come with us” to enjoy the beauty of His creation and the gift of our lives and be refreshed in mind and spirit. Let us be happy people and give happiness and joy to the world around us.
Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for inviting us to rest and renew our strength. Help us to remember to include YOU in everything we do. Amen
–Father George Vaniyapurackal
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time