In last week’s Gospel, Jesus calls upon the Twelve and sends them out two by two with virtually nothing to conduct their mission. This would have been tiring and challenging work. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his weary apostles, who have just returned from their mission, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Jesus and the apostles needed time to rest, recuperate, reenergise, and nourish their spiritual life but the crowd followed, arriving before them.
Have you ever felt like a sponge that has been sucked dry by the demands of others: family, school, work, bosses, or volunteer work? With today’s go, go, go culture with everything needing to be completed yesterday, I think each of us have felt that way at some time or another. As a full-time working mother with a young family, I struggle to find a place where I can be alone just for a few moments to take a breath, gather my thoughts and refocus for what is next. Even my visits to the bathroom are frequently interrupted with a child calling out to know where I am or to ask for assistance finding something they have lost, which often is right in front of them! I am sure that many of you can relate to this story that is similar to Jesus’ experience in today’s Gospel.
The crowd invaded the privacy of Jesus and the apostles. If Jesus needed time to regroup, reconnect with God and fill up his sponge what makes us think that we are any different? Self-care is not selfish. It is only selfish if the care ends with ourselves. We need to take time to refill our sponge so that we can fully flourish and give our best to others when needed. Sometimes our attempt at filling up our sponge works; other times, a greater need may obstruct it. What I have come to realise though is that we owe it to ourselves and others to keep trying, because a dried-out sponge doesn’t benefit anyone!