Sixteenth Sunday in ordinary time

Jesus said to the disciples, “You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while.” Mark 6:31

As we begin our summer holidays these words from Jesus in Mark’s Gospel reading are timely.  For many of us the past school year has been pressured with the frenetic hustle and bustle of daily life.  The juggling of work, family and other concerns can take its toll on us and we seek rest and refreshment for our bodies and souls.  In order to go forward into whatever the future brings, the need to have time to pause and renew ourselves must become a priority.

Following on from a very busy time in the lives of the apostles, they came back to Jesus and told Him ‘all that they had done and taught.’ Mark 6:30.  Jesus knew that the work they had been involved in had been draining; physically, mentally and spiritually.  Jesus knew the correct balance of work and rest.  Throughout the Gospels we read of those occasions where Jesus sought precious rest time in prayer and solitude alone with His Father.  Sometimes it would be late at night, spending all night in prayer before a major decision or task needed to be accomplished. Sometimes it would be very early in the morning, whilst it was still dark when Jesus would get up, leave the house where He was staying and seek refreshment and rest in prayer before the Father, communing and abiding in His Love and Rest. This holy habit of resting and prayer Jesus sought to teach His apostles about.  He still wishes us to have this balance of life too!

As it was for those early apostles of Jesus, we too, as modern-day disciples of the Lord need to seek this precious rest, refreshment and relaxation.  The summer holidays can be a gift to us and a much needed source of great grace and help to us.  We can use this time to see friends and family, to enjoy nature and spend time reflecting upon our lives.  To consider not only where we have been, what we have achieved over the past year but also where we are going, and what lies ahead for us.  This is something to reflect on not only in our working lives but our family life and spiritual life as well. Our holiday and rest times can also help us make the most of each day and enjoy all the blessings and benefits which the Lord in His generosity and love lavishes upon us.

So, how will you decide to spend the holiday time which now stretches out before us?  There are some ways we can renew ourselves spiritually as well as physically.  We may choose to take up a new hobby or a sport.  We may consider developing our skills and talents by enrolling in a course at college or university or volunteering with a charitable organisation.  We may wish to devote more time each day to prayer and reading scripture, attending daily Mass or going on a pilgrimage or retreat.

May we use this time to seek rest, refreshment and peace. May the Lord in His love inspire us to do those things which will help us to get rest for our bodies, minds, hearts and souls.  Whatever we choose to do, let us commit all our plans to the Lord and entrust them to Him.  May He guide and keep us for He ‘watches over our comings and goings from this time forward and for ever more.’ Cf. Psalm 121.

Heavenly Father, You have provided us with this great opportunity to rest and take time out. Thank You for the gift of the summer holidays we will now be enjoying.  Help us, Holy Spirit, to use this time wisely and well, and for Your Glory.  We entrust this time to You, so it may not only benefit us but may be for the good of all those whom You place alongside us.  We ask You to help us get good rest and refreshment for our body, soul, mind and spirit.  We ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son.   Amen.

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