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FEB. 6. ORDINARY TIME (B) WK. 4. SAT. MK. 6. 30-34

Mk 6:30-34 FEBRUARY 6. Ord Time. Wk 4 Sat.

The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

There is an important message in this reading in that, in order to maintain a healthy spiritual life, souls need to “withdraw” from the World from time to time and focus solely on one’s relationship with God.

This is because of the World’s tendency to “attract” our hearts with its many attractions and pleasures, and the fact our hearts are so involved with the world on a day to day basis. Over time there is often “slippage” of the focus, and priority that the spiritual life demands.

A good example of this slippage is in the area of reading Scripture! We profess to be imitating Christ, which means we need to be constantly reflecting on the Wisdom of the Gospels, but how easy it is to allow this critical duty to “slip” because of “other priorities”?

The reading highlights the issue, even in the time of Christ, (when there was no media, television, motor vehicles, mobile phones Etc.) when it states: there were so many comings and going that the apostles had no time even to eat”!

And the passage then highlights the issue further because, as Christ was trying to take his disciples away; -people saw them going, and many could guess where; and from every town they all hurried to the place on foot and reached it before them, so as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd”!

How relevant this situation is today; - with television sets placed at the centre of every home, and the internet’s “attractions” being made available to every person, including children, via mobile devices, even in bedrooms or walking down the road?

The key lesson from today’s scripture reading is the tension that exists between these multiple “attractions” and our need to give time to prayer and reflection on the Wisdom of the Gospels, as the reality is that our hearts and minds need “spiritual nourishment” to counter the World’s “distractions”!

The most effective mechanisms to provide this focus and nourishment are (1) Regular Daily Prayer, and (2) A regular (weekly?) day of recollection and Prayer, and (3) Frequent Reception of the Sacraments.

It is interesting to note that the Church has consistently recommended these practices to Catholics over the centuries but, sadly, the number of them heeding the message is declining markedly; - to the point where Confession and Mass attendance is no longer valued?

But the Gospels are clear; - we have to “withdraw our hearts from the busyness of the world”!

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