Friday, February 19, 2016

Daily Thought For February 20, 2016

Take Time To Rest

For the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B), the lectionary of the Catholic liturgy has selected a Gospel that shows us how even the disciples of Jesus had to face the problem of stress and recuperation (Mk 6:30–34). The apostles return from their first mission, full of what they have experienced and achieved. They are totally preoccupied with recounting their successes; in fact, it has become a whole business operation, and things have gone so far that, with all the coming and going, they no longer have time to eat. Perhaps they are expecting to be congratulated on their zeal; but instead, Jesus summons them to go with him to a solitary place where they can be alone and rest.

I believe it is good that we should discern the humanity of Jesus in an event like this; he is not always uttering sublime words only, nor is he constantly wearing himself out in order to deal with everything that forces itself upon him. I can just imagine his face as he says these words; whereas the apostles are positively beside themselves and, full of zeal and self-importance, neglect their meals, Jesus brings them down from the clouds: Have a rest for awhile! One can sense his quiet humor, his friendly irony as he brings them down to earth. It is precisely in this humanity of Jesus that his divinity becomes visible; here we see visibly what God is like. Any kind of hectic activity, even in religious affairs, is utterly alien to the New Testament picture of man. We always overestimate ourselves when we imagine we are completely indispensable and that the world or the Church depends on our frantic activity. Often it will be an act of real humility and creaturely honesty to stop what we are doing, to acknowledge our limits, to take time to draw breath and rest—as the creature, man, is designed to do. I am not suggesting that sloth is a good thing, but I do want to suggest that we revise our catalogue of virtues, as it has developed in the Western world, where activity alone is regarded as valid and where the attitudes of beholding, wonder, recollection and quiet are of no account, or at least are felt to need some justification. This causes the atrophying of certain essential human faculties.

All this is illustrated by our use of leisure time. Often it is nothing but a change of scene, and many people would be ill at ease if, afterward, they did not plunge once more into the mass and return to their work routine—from which they originally wanted to escape. That is why it is so necessary for us, who live constantly in an artificial world of man-made things, to leave it behind and seek to encounter creation in its natural state.

I would like to mention a small but significant thing of which the Holy Father [John Paul II, then Karol Wojtyła] spoke in his retreat addresses for Paul VI. There he tells of his conversations with a scientist, “a first-class research scientist and a fine man”, who told him: “Scientifically, I am an atheist …”; yet the same man once wrote to him: “Whenever I am confronted with the majesty of nature, of the mountains, I feel that he exists.”

God does not come to light in the artificial world of man-made things. So it is all the more necessary for us to leave our workaday world behind and go in search of the breath of creation, in order that we may meet him and thus find ourselves.

Benedict XVI. (2007). Seek that which Is above: Meditations through the Year. (G. Harrison, Trans.) (Second Edition, pp. 152–156). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.