Scripture: Lectionary 328, Feb.9th. Hebrews 13:15-17,20-21. Psalm 23:1-3,3-4,5.6. Mark 6:30-34:
The most popular psalm in our beloved country is Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” In noting that it is used in today’s reading, I realized it is an excellent psalm for starting a retreat. It creates the atmosphere necessary for a retreat and is refreshing as the cool stream of clear water that it describes. The verses bring us comfort and security for they assure us that God is our protector, our shepherd. We lack nothing when we realize God’s presence and providence in our lives. With God we lack nothing. So the psalmist prays, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” The six verses of this poetic prayer are sufficient spiritual content for a week of retreat.
Jesus realizes that his disciples have had the very experience of being an apostle as he is, and so he invites them to come apart from their mission for a while and retire to a secluded place with him. To be with him is prayer. They need not speak or do anything, just be with him and enjoy his presence. The time will come soon for them to go out again baptizing, healing, preaching, and teaching.
Like the apostles and disciples of Jesus, we need to rest in the presence of the Lord. The Psalm helps us to image this separation from our doings. We need to understand the psalm as a hymn to the divine Shepherd, not just a psalm for a burial service. It touches life and the reality of our need for leisure, retreat, silence in the presence of God.
With such opportunities that a retreat gives, us we come back seeing what we do and how we relate to one another in a new and more life-giving way. Time apart from our responsibilities, work, and ministry is part of a good healthy spiritual life.
Jesus had concern for his friends and apostles. He invited them to “be” rather than to “do.” They and we are to rest in him and with him rather than to talk. Peaceful silence and repose refreshes us for the next journey in our mission of bringing Jesus, the Good News, to others. We hear him saying to us in the depth of our hearts and souls, “Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yourselves, and learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Monsignor Ronald A. Knox). Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.