In today’s Gospel reading from Mark we see the tension that many of us face, between the need to rest and the need to care for the people in front of us who need our help. But it was Jesus Himself who, after they had told Him all they had done and taught, told His disciples to take time to rest. Why did He do that when there were clearly so many people in need?
Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Seattle, stopped by Morning Air® to discuss the importance of rest, and also the particular type of rest that God is calling us to. Bishop Mueggenborg said:
“Summertime is a great time, when families are scheduling time away so that they can rest, regroup, and recoup in preparation for the next year. And this reading is really rather perfectly placed during the summer months.
It speaks to us not so much of the experience of taking time away and getting time out, but it really speaks to us about the experience of taking time with God. And that’s very different from just an ordinary rest that we tend to seek. Rather, Jesus is inviting us, and inviting the disciples in this reading, to experience a sacred rest, the very rest that Genesis speaks about when we hear that God rested on the seventh day.
Now, God’s rest was not because the Lord was exhausted, but rather the Lord is introducing a kind of concept of contemplative resting with God, by which we are able to not only spend time with God, but we are able to look back on what has just taken place in our lives. And to have that appreciative, reflective knowledge that in a real sense we have been given the grace and the privilege to participate in God’s work in the world.
It is when we recognize – with that sense of gratitude, that sense of humility, that sense of honor – that God has invited us to be a part of His work in the world, and that we have accepted that invitation, that we can offer thanksgiving to God, even as we are resting in the Lord. So that is a very particular kind of holy rest that Jesus is inviting us to through this passage with the apostles.
Pope Francis has been speaking a lot about the need to remember that we are first and foremost human beings, and not functionaries. And he’s talked about how critical it is that we renew that spirit of contemplative resting in the Lord, so that we can be renewed in who we are, and not just accomplish the tasks of what we are doing every day. He’s really preached very strongly about the need for all of us to take time to enter into a particular sacred, spiritual rest with God.
If you look at the lives of the great saints, people who were passionately zealous in their apostolic outreach, they always fostered an interior contemplative time of rest with the Lord.
As the Psalms remind us, ‘If the Lord doesn’t build a house, in vain do the builders labor.’ So it’s important that we always align what we are doing with the will of God. Otherwise we run the risk of simply doing things for God rather than doing God’s work in the world, and there is a huge difference between those two approaches.”
Listen to the full reflection below: