“People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.” Isn’t that the way our life is? Is the Gospel talking about us? Typical day in McAllen, or anywhere else—people coming and going and nobody’s got time to stop and smell the flowers anymore.
We are all busy. Time is money. Commercialism, capitalism, socialism—the bottom line is to make a profit—get ahead—try to outsmart the other guy. Jesus tried to get away from the madness, if only for a moment. He invited the apostles to a deserted place for a rest. Sound familiar? Isn’t that what we try to do on vacation? Summer affords the opportunity to get away with the family—to leave work, school, the worries behind. Really doesn’t matter where we go, as long as we go. Too bad there are iPhones, I pads, laptops that allow us to take our work with us. Gotten more and more difficult to disconnect. However, we make the choices. Perhaps some of us have forgotten how to relax. Remember that work can be an addiction. Anything that dominates our life can turn into an addiction—alcohol, drugs, sex. Those are usually the ones that are popular. However, work is just as dangerous. Some folks just don’t know when to stop. Many people equate what they do with who they are. Proof—when some folks retire they soon die. Our profession does not give us our identity—God gives us our identity—our personality. If we are no longer able to work, if we become incapacitated, if we are unable to find work, we are still worth the Blood of Jesus on the Cross. God does not stop loving us because we cannot produce. The “work ethic” is ingrained into our minds that we have a lot of trouble just doing nothing.
Perhaps that’s the main reason that contemplative prayer is not popular. Being quiet, without any distractions, trying to empty our thoughts is not easy. We are bombarded with noise from our waking moment until we doze off at night. A study was done on contemplative women (religious women) who had Alzheimer’s disease for years and yet showed no symptoms. They also lived longer than expected. Without a doubt, their life of prayer had much to do with their physical health. Bet none of those ladies ever said, “I’m bored.” Being bored, being lonely, or a fear of not wanting to be alone gives evidence that we are in bad company. In other words, we can’t stand ourselves. Not a good sign.
We get nervous if there’s no call back, no one texting us, no one in the next room. What’s wrong with being alone? Why can’t we spend time with God—alone? Perpetual Adoration is a marvelous privilege in our Parish. But all of us need to make it work. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Where else can we get a better offer? Is that not voice Jesus calling us? He’s always waiting. No questions asked. No requirements. The results can be live giving. Countless testimonies have been shared from folks who were depressed, had lost direction, felt like giving up—“like sheep without a shepherd”. After spending an hour before the Blessed Sacrament everything started to make sense; because Jesus is our Shepherd. He gets us back on track. We are a generation of distractions—many have forgotten why we are here in the first place. Nothing can be more important than spending time with the Lord, even in the Summer. A few moments can be the taste of eternity. Nothing to loose, everything to gain.
The invitation is always open: “Come away.” Up to us to respond.