What is striking about the Gospel today is the business of it all! The Gospel tells us “there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat.”
Many of us lead busy and hectic life. Often juggling several tasks at once: meeting deadlines, working late and chasing our tails. For lots of us a work-life balance is not easily achieved.
And from the Gospel its clear that was how it was in our Lord’s own life and ministry: he and the disciples are overwhelmed and inundated by the crowds. In response Jesus insists they get away to some lonely place to be by themselves.
That need for space and time is of course an essential part of healthy living! We all need time to recover, to rest, make time for ourselves and for God. The danger is when our lives become too full and overburdened lots of things begin to get squeezed out: friends, family, our own legitimate needs and God.
The Gospels tell us that Jesus often made this time to be by himself; he would rise early and go to some lonely place to pray. The challenge for us is finding space and time. But when we do the benefits are obvious; for having time and space to think, reflect and pray we find renewal and strength to enrich and sanctify our lives.
Today the readings also give us the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. The one who tends and cares for his sheep. Confronted with the needs of the flock, Jesus doesn’t send them away or fail to meet their needs. He doesn’t abandon them. Instead he feels compassion for them and speaks to with them at length.
Christ our shepherd always shows pity, compassion and mercy to those lost and in need. He never abandons them.
When we find that our own lives fail, as sometimes they do, to showing such love and mercy for others: because we are too busy or too afraid, too preoccupied or engrossed in our own affairs. Then its time for us to make time and space in our lives; so we can rest from our labours and learn from the gentle heart of Christ, the Good Shepherd.