First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
"Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: "You have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.4I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, says the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: `The LORD is our righteousness.'
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 23:1-6
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Gospel: Mark 6:30-34
The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, 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 lonely place by themselves. Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
I found myself alone in the car after a busy morning and an afternoon soccer game. I’d kissed my husband goodbye on the sideline and headed to Charlottesville to visit my parents. It’s a two-hour drive. My son is in college in the same town and he is recovering from a sports injury. The season has been a busy one: needs of children at home, needs of children away at school, needs of a traveling husband. I was about a half-hour into the drive when I was overcome by hunger. It was 4:30 PM and I startled to realize I’d forgotten to eat. All day.
Do you ever have a day when all you’ve done and taught has kept you from meeting the basic need to eat?
Those are the days when I know I’ve been caught in a snare, tricked into thinking that I am worth what I do. That’s a lie. My worth is not measured by the things I do, or even the things I write or teach. Instead, I have value because of who I am. I am His. Sometimes—many times—I need to go away by myself in order to become who He created me to be.
Often, in my household, where many are coming and going every day, I am overwhelmed with the feeling that I am not enough, that I can’t possibly adequately meet the needs of so many people. That’s when I need to pause in the midst of too much to do and just be still.
I need to rest in Him.
He assures me that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” When I still myself and rest in that truth, I see my weaknesses and my shortcomings differently. Those are places where grace can be poured. “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
The disciples had time to eat. I had time to eat. We were just tricked into thinking that we didn’t.
We have time to rest, too. Taking the time to go away to a lonely place (a chair in the living room before anyone awakens is mine) is essential to living in Christ.
Give yourself at least five minutes today alone and still with Christ. Bible on your lap, stop talking. And just rest in the sound of His voice.
Elizabeth Foss is a wife, the mother of nine, and a grandmother. She finds the cacophony of big family imperfection to be the perfect place to learn to walk in the unforced rhythms of grace. You can learn more about her here.