Jesus was constantly surrounded by needy people. This weekend’s Gospel is a good example. You will note that after preaching in the Synagogue where he also cured a sick person, he retired to Peters house for refreshments. But, he didn’t get much peace there either. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick – he attended to her.
It was after sundown, when the Sabbath officially ended, the real trouble began. People crowded around the door, bringing with them all those who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another. He cured many of them. It must have been all hours by the time he got to bed.
Jesus ‘made himself all things to all men’. How did he cope, this weekend’s gospel tells us how. ‘He rose early and went off to a lonely place to pray’. What did the lonely place do for him? It enabled him to get some much needed rest. It helped him to keep focused on his mission. But above all, it gave him time to pray. It was prayer that enabled him to maintain and foster the most important thing in his life – his relationship with his heavenly father. That relationship was the ground beneath his feet all life long, and the secret of his successful ministry. Jesus’ entire ministry arose from his prayer, and was sustained by it.
We too need to withdraw from our activities from time to time in order to care for ourselves. How many of us manage to do this on a regular basis? Even though we may be convinced of its benefits, we don’t find it an easy thing to do. Why is this?
One reason:- we don’t know how to cope with stillness! To withdraw means to stop our activity. But as soon as we stop our activity, we begin to feel empty – hence the compulsion to keep busy.
Another reason is: we are afraid of self-examination an activity few of us find easy – to reflect – is a kind of purification.
A Third reason: we can’t cope with loneliness – what makes loneliness painful is not the absence of people – but the emptiness we feel. Therefore, we fill the void with endless distractions.
If we knew how to withdraw, we would benefit, and so too would our work. Our work would benefit because the quiet time would enable us to draw ourselves together, so that we are able to work from our purest and deepest springs. Action that is planted in the shallow soil of a life without prayer can be dangerous.
A quiet space is absolutely necessary in order to maintain our connection with God. Each day we should try, if only for a short while, to withdraw to a quiet place in order to seek the face of God. Just to sit in such a place is a good thing. In it we not only find God but something special to like about ourselves.
There is a wonderful Hymn with words of invitation – Be still and know that I am God (3) I am the Lord that healeth thee. (3) In thee O Lord do I put my trust – Be still and know that I am God.
May you find peace in the presence of the Lord, in your sacred space.