Saturday, February 06, 2016

What You Have Not Asked For

I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like.”  1 Kings 3:12-13

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 

The Holy Land has been a busy place.  After Jesus had shown his hand by curing people with diseases and driving out demons, he commissioned his disciples to do the same.  They went forth without too many heavy bags to weigh them down.  When they returned, Jesus rewarded them with the promise of a retreat.  “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” But there was no escaping the actions people desired once they know how Jesus would answer their prayers. 

The attempted withdrawal of Jesus and his disciples to a desert place is interrupted.  Their “rest” attracts a great number of people following them. “Toward this people of the new exodus Jesus is moved with pity; he satisfies their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things, thus gradually showing himself the faithful shepherd of a new Israel.”[i]

While it might be easy to focus on continuing buildup of the good works performed by Jesus, instead peer into the hearts of Solomon and Jesus as revealed in today’s readings.  Solomon could have asked the Lord for anything.  Yet in humility, he requested a wise and understanding heart.  He was blessed with compassion and wisdom beyond all in history before and since.  That compassion was embedded in the sacred heart of Jesus.  Jesus took that compassion and made it the mission of his disciples.

Despite wanting to reward his disciples with a retreat and rest, they were followed by throngs of people wanting to hear more and ask more…all leading to the next miracle – the feeding of five thousand.

This reading from Mark 6 sometimes appears in the Daily Readings in July.  It’s easy to hold it in your heart when planning a beach vacation.  Jesus invites us on vacation with him.  However, the invitation comes as a reward not for doing OUR work, but for doing HIS.  Maybe it is more appropriate to appear in our readings in the middle of a cold February week when the remnants of the Jonas Blizzard are still melting from our streets. 

Have I spent the past few weeks doing his work or mine? 

Jesus gives us what we do not ask for – the cross of his compassionate heart.  He asks us to focus not on our own wishes. He shows us to put aside our desire for rest when the needs of the many press upon our hearts and minds.

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