3 February
Mk 6:30-34

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognised them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Today we see the Twelve returning from their mission (see Feb. 1).  Clearly they were the worse for wear.  He told them they needed to rest: to rest and to be silent. 

He himself knew that same need.  Scattered here and there through the gospels are verses that tell us volumes about Jesus by their very silence.  "When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place" (Lk 4:42).  Another is Mk 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."  See also Lk 5:16, "He would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray."  And Lk 6:12, "He went out into the hills to pray, and he spent the whole night in prayer to God." 

“The apostles had no time even to eat.”  That sounds more like today.  There are things that never change, despite all the change we see in our world.  We need rest and silence.  Have you noticed that watching TV doesn't really relax you?  At the end you usually feel just empty and wasted.  Rest, the art that the animals practise to perfection, is one that we have to learn all over again. 

The nature of the mind is to postpone.  When that obviously doesn’t get us anywhere we say, I mustn’t be going fast enough.  So we go faster.  This may be the origin of the fascination with speed.  We are running away from ourselves.  Self-knowledge is almost impossible in this atmosphere.  In the time of Jesus a bullock-cart was the fastest means of transport.  What would they think of the speed at which we live? 

Here is something to help us slow down.  It is from Thomas Merton’s Way of Chuang Tzu. 
There was a man who was so disturbed by the sight of his own shadow and so displeased with his own footsteps that he determined to get rid of both. The method he hit upon was to run away from them.
So he got up and ran. But every time he put his foot down there was another step, while his shadow kept up with him without the slightest difficulty.
He attributed his failure to the fact that he was not running fast enough. So he ran faster and faster, without stopping, until he finally dropped dead.
He failed to I that if he merely stepped into the shade, his shadow would vanish, and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.




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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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