Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

The need of the desert

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he 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. Mk 6,30-34

Today, the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported all that they have “done and taught” during their first missionary experience. He realizes that they are tired and need to recharge their natural and spiritual batteries, because the life of the mission requires a background for reflection, contemplation and prayer. Also the family life,  with its commitments  of the professional work and of the family, due to the effort which the children, the home work and the daily living require, demands that we find a time for reflection, contemplation and prayer, to understand in depth the plan of life and to regenerate the necessary forces. Sometimes, both in the life of the mission and of the family, due to a certain “mystique” of the commitment, we somehow resist to accept the invitation which the Lord addresses today: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while”. On the contrary, it is an invitation to be accepted and to be sought: it is the time of the desert, which is necessary as the daily bread. In the desert there is the silence of the things and of the men, and especially there is the presence of God  The desert is arid, but it is not barren: indeed, all which is born in the desert is very precious. The desert is an interior dimension, where we must enter with the pure necessary, stripped from the thoughts of every day: our needs and the ones of the family, the strategies oriented to the profit and to the career and the thousands attempts of the world to capture our attention . In the desert you find yourself face to face with God, which comes to us, calls us, speaks to us and leads us towards an inner freedom, which is freedom from the things, from the concerns and from the needs brought about by our society. It is not easy to find this time to go into the desert, but we have to search it: we are always surrounded by a crowd of people, as in the today’s gospel, which try to occupy the whole of our inner space with their needs and their affection. I recall with great nostalgia my work in Saudi Arabia when, at the end of the week, I could afford to spend a day being alone in the desert, sure that, in Italy, Anna Maria would have been able to fulfil the many family commitments. I prayed for her, for the sons, and then I abandoned myself to the silence. In the evening I returned to the company field being regenerated.

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