Hebrews 13:15-17, 20-21
"Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little". The Apostles were not only cherished friends of Jesus, they were part of his mission of salvation. We know how he encountered and attracted seven of the twelve! Our reading tells us of his delight with their first mission. . He prepared them well. Only after they had watched and shared the preaching and conduct of the Lord did he give them detailed instructions on their first independent mission. Now they are back and elated at their successes in curing and driving out demons. It had been exhausting work and the Lord wanted to give them a rest.
It was not to be! Jesus had the twelve take a boat and head for the rest spot. The crowds who had assembled knew of a short cut and were waiting for Jesus as they landed. Jesus would meet their need and spent the day teaching. As evening approached, 5,000 and more were fed on a few loaves and fishes. The apostles were employed as servers! Not much rest! Ministry came first!
Then and now the apostolate of Jesus involves the assistants he inspires. Vatican II tells us that in our day: "Lay people have the right and duty to be apostles." Jesus cherishes today’s apostles as truly as he cared for his first twelve. Today, some spend themselves in churchly functions, others fulfill their calling by serving the common good of humanity. Today’s apostolate can be as demanding as was toil up and down the hills of Galilee. We, too, would appreciate hearing "Rest a little.."
Apostles in every age have known the stress of ministry. St. Paul of the Cross reflected: "For us the saying is not ‘Rest in peace.’ For us there is work."
But it is the Lord’s work, he has chosen us and is at our side to strengthen and bless. He loves his apostles of years long past and today.
Fr. Fred Sucher, C.P. is retired and lives in the Passionist community in Chicago. For many years he taught philosophy to Passionist seminarians.