The Gospel of St Mark today introduces us to the compassionate Jesus. His friends have returned from their visits to the neighboring villages and towns. They are tired and exhausted. Jesus invites them to come away with him to a “lonely place” and rest. He takes them to a place called Gennesaret, a Gentile (non-Jewish) area. Not only does Jesus invite them to rest but he also ensures that they are protected from the uncompromising demands of their Jewish leaders. They are free to relax, be themselves and enjoy the company of each other without the unrelenting scrutiny of their religious leaders. Jesus enables them to have a very different experience of God’s presence in the world.
The rituals of religion are important for us because they provide us with a way of giving thanks to God for his gifts to us. Nevertheless, we can discover the goodness of God in other ways and in other places. This “lonely place” where the apostles went provided them with an opportunity to discover God’s well-earned relaxation.
It is important for us all to seek good fellowship and to enjoy the companionship of family and friends from time to time. We should never feel guilty about well-deserved relaxation, good fun and enjoyable company.
In today’s Gospel story it is not long before the demanding hordes of inquisitive people catch up with the apostles again. They have to once again take up the responsibilities that are demanded of a disciple of Jesus.
There are some powerful lessons for us all in today’s Gospel story. To be a true disciple of Jesus we must ensure that we look after our own wellbeing from time to time. It is important for a disciple to relax sometimes!