“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
In listening to the words of the Gospel passage and applying them to our lives, perhaps we have not listened as carefully—or as fully—as we should have. In this passage Jesus says to us what Jesus says to His apostles: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” He invites them by His words to imitate Him: He calls them to follow Him to a deserted place.
Jesus leads the apostles there, but when they arrive at the place, Jesus sees a vast crowd. What does he do? Jesus, the Good Shepherd, begins feeding the flock with his teaching. Again Jesus is speaking to His apostles, but this time He invites them by His actions to imitate Him: He calls them to follow Him into the midst of the crowd.
Jesus’ life in this passage teaches us the meaning of the words sometimes attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: “O Divine Master / grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console / to be understood as to understand / to be loved as to love. / For it is in giving that we receive….”
These words lead us back again to the scene of the Gospel. Can we see that Jesus is teaching us that to be a faithful shepherd is to be a faithful steward, to offer everything to God, both our work and our rest? Nothing, not a thing, is ours, not even the rest that we enjoy in the midst of a busy day, for even the rest we are granted prepares us only to serve both God and others more fully.