Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
When evening came, the boat was out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the lake. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
Like many people in ministry I have had jobs where the demands were physical, mental, and spiritual, on me and on my family. When God calls people to work for Him, they know that much will be demanded of them, but even so getting the balance between home and work, as well as between what the parish can expect of them, and what they can actually do, is difficult. One such time comes to mind. I was about to go out to take a large funeral when the phone rang. It was a parishioner I knew well, who was contemplating suicide!* I told them the problem and assured them I would see them immediately the funeral was over. For the rest of the afternoon though I was torn by the two demands, and all I could do was hand the problem over to God.
In today's passage from scripture Mark continues with the speed of narrative that we expect - Jesus sends the disciples on ahead, dismisses a huge crowd after feeding them, goes into the mountains to pray, saves the disciples from a storm, and is pressed on all sides to heal the sick. Whatever is demanded of him, Jesus responds with compassion.
Sometimes when we're torn between the stresses and challenges of life though, we learn something about ourselves and also about God. It's not that God makes us suffer, for as with today's verses from Mark's Gospel, Jesus is always nearby and when the time is right he helps the disciples. The incident of the funeral, and the parishioner who needed help though, taught me to be more dependant on God and to be more faithful to Him. I wasn't the only one who could help them after all. Jesus often spent all night in prayer - this is what gave him the power to continue with his ministry and cope with the pressures of his life. Sometimes we just need to spend time with God, and stop trying to sort all the problems out on our own.
* All was well in the end!
all too often we take on the worries
and the stresses of life,
and try to make sense of them all,
instead of turning to You for help.
Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ
knew how important it was to spend time
with You before making decisions,
and before acting on them.
Help us so to learn from waiting on You
that this is how to achieve Your aims
rather than our own misguided efforts.