“Come with me to a lonely place where we are alone and rest a little!” (V. 31).
And with that, Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson. Although he is pleased to see that his disciples are happy with the miracles brought about by the preaching, he does not dwell on compliments and questions, but worries about their physical and internal exhaustion. He wants to warn you of a danger that threatens us too: to let yourself be absorbed by the hectic pace of activity and to fall into the trap of activism, where it is only a matter of achieving results and being absolute protagonists. How often does that happen in the church: we are always busy, we rush; think that everything depends on us – and in the end we risk neglecting Jesus. That is why the Lord invites his followers to rest with him for a while. Not only is it a rest of the body, it is also a rest of the heart. Because it is not enough to “switch off”; it’s about really calming down. And to do that, we have to get back to the heart of the matter: pause, be still, pray so as not to move from the hectic pace of work to the hectic pace of vacation. Jesus did not evade people’s needs – he withdrew every day mainly in prayer, in silence, in intimate familiarity with the Father. We should always keep his loving request – rest a little – in mind: Let us guard against striving for performance, let us stop the hectic pace that dictates our daily routines. Let us learn to pause, switch off the mobile phone, look people in the eye, cultivate the silence, contemplate nature, regenerate ourselves in dialogue with God.
But the gospel tells us that Jesus and the disciples cannot really rest. People find them and pour in from everywhere. The Lord has pity on that. And here we come to the second aspect: compassion. This is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness. How often do we find passages in the Gospel where it says: He had compassion. Jesus is touched, dedicates himself to the people and resumes his teaching (cf. vv. 33-34). That may sound like a contradiction, but in truth it is not. Because only a heart that does not allow itself to be absorbed by the hustle and bustle is capable of being moved: a heart that does not lose itself in itself and the things to be done, but perceives others, their needs and their needs.
Compassion is born out of contemplation. If we learn to really rest, we will be able to have real compassion; if we cultivate a contemplative gaze, we will be able to pursue our activities without the greed of those who want to usurp and co-opt everything; if we stay in touch with the Lord and don’t numb our insides, then the things we need to do won’t have the power to take our breath away and devour us. We need an “ecology of the heart” made up of calm, contemplation, and compassion. Let’s use summer time for this!