Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sheep Without A Shepherd

The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.  Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

People's need can often overwhelm a priest or pastor. It seems that everyone falls apart at the same time, the crisis enormous and the potential for burn out great.  We can give in to thinking we can help everyone and act like Jesus. But we falter then, because we are in need of a shepherd, and our rest is as important as our work.

Jesus took time to secret his disciples away, seeing their exhaustion and weariness. They were proud of all they had done, and couldn't see how close to the edge they were. Like sheep getting too close to the ravine's edge in the dark, the disciples were edging towards a fall, and the people kept coming. Jesus dealt with all who came to him, but it doesn't say the disciples did. They got they rest while Jesus worked. And we are invited today to put aside the guilt that rises when we know our desperate need for refreshment, and listen to the voice of our Good  Shepherd.

Today, I ask God to help me do my work and take my rest, listening at all times for the direction of the shepherd. May we not follow the herd down into the dangers of over work and exhaustion, but use our rest to be restore for the good of all who come our way. And may we remember that we have a Good Shepherd who never asks us to take his place.

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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