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16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Everybody will agree that our times call for hard work, assiduous labor, double effort.  It should be the case in this period of financial crisis. Businesses are imperiled and even the most powerful countries declare alarm in their economies. As Filipinos we know the value of hard work.  We are no stranger to perspiring labor in the fields, in plying our jeepneys and buses, in the sales of the marketplace.  We are accustomed to problem solving in computer agencies, in schools, in the law firm. 

The gospel shows both the Lord Jesus and his disciples immersed in serious work.  They labor hard for the Kingdom. They serve the people with eagerness and total commitment.  They are not driven merely by a motivation for success.  In fact, Jesus was moved with compassion for the crowds following Him like sheep without a shepherd.  He was a willing shepherd to the scattered flock.  The disciples too, shared in the burning impetus for the salvation of which they saw in the Lord. Jesus and His disciples were sincere in their work but their work is not to rank as the highest priority of their lives.

The Lord Jesus, in receiving His disciples from their successful forays into mission, reminds them of the importance of rest, solitude, recharging.  Their enthusiasm and success were not opportunities for Him to exploit their energies.  Rather He taught them a valuable lesson in hard work, that is, no one can be continually productive without moments of separation from the many preoccupations of the world, moments to gather up energy and rebuild one’s strength.

Today many people have to be reminded to take moments of rest, to listen to their bodies’ aches and pains, to respect the limits of their power.  Many people enslave themselves in their work for a legitimate reason – to live, to provide, to fulfill their destiny. But at what cost?  Doctors note the rising pressures and tensions in our lives.  People get sick in their mind before they get physically infirm. Other values are sacrificed at the altar of money and self-fulfillment – quality time for spouse, bonding with children, concern for health and relationship with God.

By inviting His disciples to rest awhile, Jesus is reminding us that we cannot over-extend ourselves and forget the things that matter most.  In a deeper way however, there is a message that modern men and women need to hear.  The break the gospel advocates is also an invitation to rest in the Lord.  We need to make time for God in our lives.  We must remember to keep company with the Lord.  To continue being effective at work, we need to ask the help of Him from whom all energies flow, from whom all zest spring.

Just as it is important to recreate our energies by relaxing, bonding activities and enjoyment, we need to continuously ignite our hope and confidence through prayer, conversation with God and self-offering to Him.  That is why we have the chance for retreats, recollections, seminars, Sunday Mass and brief but meaningful visits to the adoration chapel. Do you avail yourself of these? This week, improve your performance at your work by learning to pause and relax and most specially, by spending time with the Lord who renews fatigued muscles, tired minds and sapped spirits.  Rest in the Lord.