Although not the main focus of this reflection, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the use of healing language in this gospel story. May we continue to recognize and reconcile the ways we are complicit in stories that perpetuate violence and continue to work diligently and courageously to spread justice and love to all people. Amen.
In this Gospel, we witness Jesus spending all day working—performing miracles, being present with a whole town. He then rises early, before dawn, to a deserted place, after what we can only imagine was a very full day of physical, spiritual, and emotional work.
It’s not often I relate with Jesus’ ministry, but in this moment I feel for him deeply. Running around from job to task, to errand, to chore, to work. I feel committed to all the people I have worked with and for. Yet, I inevitably have felt pulled beyond what my human body could do. So I feel Jesus deeply in this moment when he tries to reset, perhaps to realign himself with God or his vocation, only to be pursued by his friends and told by Simon “everyone is looking for you.”
Jesus simply responds “Let us go on to the neighboring towns… for that is what I came out to do.”
How does he do this? How does he go from finding refuge in a deserted place to recommitting to his ministry?
I think the key to this Gospel story is the space between the two lines:
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns,
What happens here in this bracket?
In my imagination, Jesus is sitting under a tree. He looks down at his hands, taking in his body on the ground, perhaps even brushing the ground a few times, dirtying his hands. Perhaps he feels the irregularity of the bark pattern along his spine, keeping him upright, and the warm breeze shifting his hair. It is then that he responds: “let us go.”
Take a moment to imagine what happens for you in this pause. What brings us from moments of despair, or exhaustion, into moments of ministry? Is it community or laughter? Is it sleep? Is it a pump up song? Remember there is no right or wrong answer. What bridges these two moments in your imagination and in your body?
Although originally from St. Louis, Sofia now lives in Boston and is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School with a focus on hospital chaplaincy. Sofia is an active community member of Benincasa Community- a lay-led Catholic Community dedicated to the Works of Mercy and eco-justice, based in CT.