1 Kings 3:4-13
"Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while…"
King Solomon’s prayer in the first reading was indeed an unselfish prayer. The young king asked God not for riches or power, but rather for a practical wisdom and an understanding heart to help him shepherd the people God had entrusted to him.
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus manifests an even greater unselfishness and generosity. Wearied from his preaching and care for the people, Jesus sought some moments of rest and quiet with his apostles in a deserted place, but the crowds saw where He went and quickly followed. Seeing their desire for change and healing and forgetting himself and his fatigue, Jesus turned his attention to the needs of the people.
The two readings combine to give a practical encouragement for life and ministry in this 21st Century: our genuine Christ-like care for all God’s creation flourishes with God’s gift of both practical wisdom and an understanding heart, enriched by a blend of contemplative quiet and prayer. To skimp on any one dimension is to diminish the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus in our needy world.
With the great renewal season of Lent just weeks away, perhaps Jesus’ invitation in today’s Gospel can prod us to open our calendars & planners and schedule ourselves some quiet time of personal growth: a blend of physical renewal, intellectual opportunity, emotional integration, and spiritual enrichment. Perhaps we are blessed with a nearby retreat center or house of prayer, or a quiet corner of our parish church, or even the solitude of a "sacred space" in our home; that "out of the way place". Jesus knows us well – and loves us, as He bids us join Him for the renewal of our hearts and lives…and our world!
An understanding heart…solitude…rest…Jesus… Priceless!!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.