As I entered the church this afternoon, I was stopped by a woman who complained to me that Pope Benedict was taking a vacation when there is so much important work to be done. I laughed, thinking about the subject of the Gospel reading and what father was going to say in his homily.
Here is the Gospel reading from this weekend:
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.
Notice the connection between the Gospel and the comment? Yes, vacation. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
We have a tendency to see down time as wasted time and it can be. However, relaxation is necessary. It we make our lives all work, we turn into burned out, angry people. When we take care of ourselves and take time to relax we are able to do our best work.
In the Gospel, Jesus realized that the apostles and Himself needed a break, but the crowd met Him there. Hmmm, does that sound familiar?
Yes, Jesus taught us by example and so is Pope Benedict. Like Jesus, when Pope Benedict went on vacation, he was met by hundreds of people. Even on vacation, he is taking time out to meet and talk with the faithful. Jesus showed us that while we are to take time out for ourselves, that doesn't mean we are on vacation from ministering and teaching the ways of faith.
Rocco wrote about how Pope Benedict will never be able to emerge in public without wearing his white cassock. I don't think that is exactly true. Pope John Paul was often photographed in is younger years in ski clothes. It wouldn't bother me in the least to see him in regular clerics or even civvies on vacation. However seeing him in papal attire reminds us that even on vacation he is the Pope. While there is time for relaxation there are no vacations from vocation. Yes, Pope Benedict may be seen as a virtual prisoner in his cassock, however I think there is more to it than meets the eye. in CHOOSING to wear it, yes it was a choice, he teaches us by example the importance of permanence of vocation.