July 18, 2021
We become so caught up in the work and activity of life that we become stressed and depressed and frazzled. We see this lack of balance and harmony in today’s Gospel story.
After spending some time sharing with and teaching the people who were wanting to hear what Jesus had to say, Jesus challenged them by going out, in pairs, to do what he was doing. Our story today does not tell us how long they were gone. But they had to walk everywhere, accept hospitality from strangers, do a lot of talking and scratching their heads. Just think of the immediate stress that you would feel if the Church asked you to do the same today.
The disciples returned elated by the results, but tired. They could not get away, even to debrief until Jesus said, “let’s get out of here and go to a deserted place.” But even that didn’t work — to go and fill the shoes of Jesus.
How do we bring balance into our lives? How do we deal with the stress that comes from an overactive and busy life?
You can Google the question and discover many simple approaches to bring life into harmony. We are not victims of life’s busyness if we don’t want to be.
Jesus was a life-coach. The Scriptures call him a “Shepherd,” in the sense of his graced ability to help people understand their relationships to God, to life and to others. He encouraged us to remember that we are in charge of ourselves and we set the direction for our lives. His wisdom, light, and grace motivates us to responsibility. He provides a framework for life. We are not sheep following each other seamlessly, without someone who can motivate us to find the inner harmony that we need and seek.
We have to work for a living, but we do not live to work, and that is what drains our energy and our creativity. What we need to be is to be in harmony– our lives in harmony.
Our purpose is to be the good and to do the good. Our first goal is to love what we do and to do well, what we do. Relationships in our lives are more important than our work, which, when overdone, drains our energy and leaves nothing in our relationships.
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile” is Jesus’ invitation today.
We need to make the time and to take the time to stop, to work less, to become refreshed, to relax, to do something differently, to work on our relationships, or to stop wasting time. How many times have I heard older, retired people lament about their long working life on behalf of their families and lamenting how little time there was to spend with them.
The same thing applies to our relationship with God. How many think about God every day? How many sit down every day with God for 10 minutes? From whom does life come? From whom does harmony come? If we are going every which way, from waking to going to bed, how do we know which is the best way to go?
Where there is dissension and disharmony in our homes, the root cause often is the missing attention, conversation and connection between spouses and between parents and their children.
The Prophet Jeremiah excoriated the civic and religious leaders of this day for not shepherding the people of Israel. “You have scattered my sheep and driven them away!” he roared.
Jesus paid attention to what his disciples needed and took them away, not only to teach them, but to preserve their inner harmony, to make sure that he was connected to them, and them to him and all to one another.
The center is Jesus. At the center of our inter-connection is Jesus Himself, St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians. “For He is our peace, he who made us one and broke down the dividing wall” that insulates us and keeps us apart.
St. Paul reiterates today that Jesus has abolished all the laws, commandments and religious legalism. He has created us to be a new person; Jesus’ goal is our personal harmony and balance.
- We need to appreciate our work vocations
- We need to appreciate each member of our families and to be there for them
- We need to take time alone to be with God, beyond a Sunday mass
- We need spiritual food and drink to be the kind of a person that God wants us to be
- We re-establish a wholesome, good order in the routine of family life wherein no one can pass and all must contribute. (All participate and contribute)
Jesus could see and intuit why people were coming to him, often clueless about life and how to live it happily and wonderfully. “They were like sheep with a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things,” the story writes.
Today, His teaching is about restoring integrity and harmony to our lives. It begins with balance and harmony. It begins when we take the time to do it.