Jesus invited his disciples to “Come away and rest awhile,” and I just spent eight days at the Jesuit Retreat House in OshKosh, part of the team directing 50 or so retreatants who accepted that invitation.
As important as “come away” is, the other significant word in Jesus’ invitation is “awhile.” We go on retreat so that we may return to the world to help heal its wounds, to help make manifest the reign of God.
As though I needed any reminder of the wounds and needs of our world, during the time I was at the retreat house, there were several suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, at least two killings by police officers and several police officers killed, and a host of other bad tidings in our news.
How do we respond to all of this? It can’t be with division, violence and hatred; that response only breeds more division, violence and hatred. It must be with love.
In today’s first Mass reading, God tells his people I have told you what you need to do: love me and love each other.
“For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you. It is not up in the sky, that you should say,’Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,’Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
The Gospel strikes the same chord, as Jesus teaches what we call the Great Commandment, accompanied by his parable of the Good Samaritan.
It is not complicated. We know what we need to do. We have only to carry it out.