“However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So, He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed,” (Luke 5:15-16).
There are many Scriptures that speak of Our Lord Jesus withdrawing to pray. All the Evangelists, in all the Gospels, record Jesus as taking periodic and regular breaks to either be alone or be with just a few disciples. We still celebrate one of the most important of those alone times, The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, on August 6th. It is not surprising that the Scriptures concentrate on the prayer aspect of those alone times, but there is often an indirect commentary also present. We remember another of those alone-trips in the story of Jesus walking on the water and calling out to Peter to step out of the boat and walk to him.
In the Scripture from Luke 5 quoted above, notice that the withdrawal comes after the multitudes start to gather. From this time on, he is constantly pressed by the crowds of people who want to have more time with him. This constant pressure leads to some exhaustion. How do I know? Do you remember the Gospel story of the time that Jesus was so exhausted that he did not wake up even when the disciples thought that the boat was going to go down in the storm? They woke Jesus up. Jesus wakes up, tells the storm to shut up, rebukes his disciples, and then returns to sleep. “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:39-40). His human nature & body were exhausted from the constant interaction with both the multitudes and his disciples.
Our Lord needed times of rest to both relax and to unwind from the pressures of the work to which His Father had called him. So do we! If Our Lord needed to take time off to relax, then how much more do we need to take time off to rest from our pressures and from the vocation to which God has called us? In this culture, summer is the time of the year when we all tend to relax and take some refreshing renewing times off in order to relieve our tensions and stress. This is a good thing, and I know it is a good thing because Our Lord used to take regular times of relaxation away from his responsibilities.
This summer look around and do some planning! Make sure to take time for yourself and time for you and your family to spend together and away from others. Go to a retreat. Send your children to camp and to vacation bible school. Go to the beach. Go to the mountains. Make sure to build some family memories together. Make sure to build some by-yourself memories. Imitate Our Lord Jesus and take some time for you. Jesus’ Second Commandment was to love our neighbor as our self. That means that in order to know how to bestow some love on your neighbor, you really do need to know how to bestow some love on yourself, and that includes bestowing some relaxation and time away from your regular pursuits. Make sure to bestow some love on yourself this summer.
But, do not forget that during his times away, Jesus also prayed. One of the other best ways to bestow some love on yourself is to take some time to talk to Our Father. Our bond of love with Our Father needs to be replenished as much as our bond of love with our family and friends. This summer make sure that wherever you are, you go to the Divine Liturgy. Follow Our Lord’s example and do not forget to pray. Renew your heavenly and your earthly bonds. And, have a good summer, whether here or somewhere else!