Year B, The Sixteenth Sunday Ordinary

The Hermitage with Jesus

July 23, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 6:30-34

We are often internally impressed with the work that we do.

Many times, it seems, the activity we experience, the tasks we accomplish, and the work that we do, become our focus and our accomplishments are the topic of conversation...

God listens.

30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.

They had been commissioned by Jesus to go two by two. There they would proclaim the Gospel of repentance...Jesus called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.

We are not to rely upon our own strength and prowess as we embark upon our journey. We are to rely upon God alone who provides for our every need. We are to have faith in God for our every need... we are called to reliance, dependence, upon God alone.

However, we return, having finished our varied apostolate(s) - and we find that we are tired and need rest.

Jesus knew this.

31 And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

We know of a hermit brother who works in support of his semi-eremitic community a few hours a week by working a night shift from 11 PM to 7 AM two days a week with those who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. This is an apostolate for this hermit brother, for his life is usually one of the solitude and prayer of a small laura where he is usually in that "lonely place" that Jesus calls us to "rest a while."

There is great value in apostolate(s) where the secular work that we do may become our sacred vocation according to the will of God and our state in life. Our Lord Jesus is honored through the work that we do if we do it in the name of the Lord we love. We recall the words of St. Paul, who says - "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)

May this ever be our view of work for God.

Yet, God knows our frame and our need for rest. Some need this time in "Hermitage" with Jesus more than others. Many need it all the time, the true hermit (eremitic) brother or sister. But, God calls his people who work to the place of Hermitage with Jesus -- "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while."

There were too many distractions from the interior life for the discip0les... and Jesus knew this... For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.

Jesus provided a Way...

32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

We find it significant that they went by "boat," as this causes us to see a certain boat that Peter owned and operated. In like manner, the Church, the Bark of Peter offers this gift of Hermitage with Jesus for all who seek solitude from time to time or all the time. There are times when we need retreat to those "lonely places" were we meet and commune with God alone.

Truly, it is Mary also who leads us to the "lonely place" where Jesus is known more fully. "Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her beloved?" (Song 8:5) Thus, we too as those who are destined to be presented as a chaste virgin need these times with Jesus in Hermitage to learn better how to lean on our beloved One.

Times abound where distractions come and go...

33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them.

Many times, when we desire time alone with Jesus, there are those who try to run ahead of us to make it so that we are kept from entering into that Hermitage with Jesus that seeks union with God.

Let us remember that God gives more grace and compassion to minister unconditional love to those who seek to know God through our varied clerical and lay ministries. However, we must always remember that we need to come to that Hermitage with Jesus in order to gain strength.

It is essential to rest for... one must have something to give.

Jesus calls us to rest in him and come to intimacy with God through him that we might have much to give to others in compassionate ministry.

There are so many who are like sheep without a shepherd.

We know of many who suffer "burn out" from the continuous labor they expend upon others. So often, it seems that these who labor so much labor with such consternation. We note the "pained" look on the faces of those who seem to refuse to rest and take time away from the toil of working themselves to death.

God calls us to rest and take time away from toil... to draw close to God in a solitary place, the Hermitage with Jesus.

34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

We thank God for this balance we have in God's grace. There will always be the work for us to do... there will be those with great need. Yet, the rest is there for us to find the strength to minister to needs not through our own strengths, but through the strength that comes from God.

May we become more focused through the focus in solitude upon God alone through Jesus Christ.

Deus et Sanctissima.

To order the weekly homily immediately, click here