There are two themes in the First Reading and Gospel today that I would like to spend some time on in this reflection – the first is the notion of rest and the second is the need for nourishment.
Rest must be important for our physical, mental, and spiritual health because it is a common theme in Christ’s life. It is in the form of physical rest – we see Jesus asleep in the boat - but it can be in the form of emotional or spiritual rest – how often do we see Jesus go off by himself and spend time in prayer with, and to, His Father. As Psalm 23 reminds us, our Shepherd desires to lead us by restful waters and seeks to refresh our souls.
In our culture today, the notion of Sabbath rest has become antiquated. Sunday has become no different than any other day of the week. A day claimed by activities and sporting events, homework, household chores, and errands. Even our Sunday Eucharistic celebration has become another item on our “daily to do list”; something we rush to and from. Try as I might, I too get caught in that trap and enslaved by the demands and distractions of the day…. Or am I really caught or enslaved? I wonder, is it really a trap; is the secular world really my master, or am I simply making a choice? More importantly, is a fast-paced life really what our Heavenly Father intended for us?
I laughed out loud when I read this sentence from the Gospel – “People were coming and going great numbers and they had no opportunity to eat.” How often do we seek the “drive thru” to order “fast food” or find ourselves picking up “things to go.” Today, with services like Uber Eats on our phone, we do not even have to go to get our own food!
Now we need food to nourish our physical bodies, but we have a need for spiritual nourishment as well. Our eternal souls, as the Letter from the Hebrews, says are fed “by the Blood of the eternal covenant.” The Body and Blood of Christ should be our most important meal of the day, or at least of the week. It is the source and summit of our faith. Do we treat it that way? Our Shepherd comes to us at every Mass to nourish and sustain us with His Word and His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Let’s take the time to eat!
There are many things offered at St. Elizabeth Seton to provide you with the opportunity to rest and be fed. I invite you to visit our Adoration Chapel or take part in a daily Mass; consider joining the men at That Men Is You, the women at Walking With Purpose, or one of our small faith communities. Be fed with the food and fellowship our Mardi Gras in February or our Fish Fry in March. The Gospel says, “Come away by yourselves…” – you can that by registering for the Men’s Welcome Weekend in March.
You don’t have the time? Is it a trap or a choice? Is this world your master or is Christ?
I invite you to ponder that today.