Gospel Meditation

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For most of us, the dynamic between prayer and action is imperfect. Breakfast needs to be made and the kids dressed. Work demands our energy and additional responsibilities fill our evenings and weekends. Then there’s the football game or a new TV series to stream. After all, don’t we need to relax?

We’re all busy. But just imagine Jesus’ situation in today’s Gospel. He heals Peter’s mother-in-law, drives out demons, and cures diseases late into the night. With very little sleep, he arises before dawn to capture some peace and quiet, only to find “those who were with him pursued him.” How often do we feel pursued by the harried commitments, even when we try to seek rest? Perhaps we can learn something from the response of Jesus.

Jesus models two key things: the essential nature of prayer and the essential call of vocation. “He went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” Despite inevitable exhaustion, Jesus prioritizes time with the Father. We might not have easy access to deserts and mountaintops, but today’s Gospel challenges us to take intentional time set apart for God. We can designate a “prayer chair” in a corner of our home or leave a little earlier to pick our children up from school so we can snatch time in a nearby chapel. We can pray the rosary on our commute or take the dog for a long walk in silence.

However, when the Apostles arrive, Jesus doesn’t linger overlong in the deserted place or make an excuse for why he can’t return with his friends. Jesus is true to his calling. He continues on in his state of life, serving the people nearest to him. Like Jesus, we are invited to set intentional time for communion with God so that we can be refreshed and empowered for our communion with others.

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