Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
22 July, 2018
“Mother Parks, take your rest.” – Rosa Parks
In today’s Gospel Jesus says (extremely loose translation): “Hey, boys. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it. Let’s get out of here. We need a rest. We haven’t even been able to eat lunch yet. I know this quiet little cove across the lake.” (Mark 6:31) Several times Jesus alone, or together with the disciples, goes off to pray and re-energize. It’s clear that Jesus made no distinction between rest and prayer. However, in today’s story, they are not successful in their getaway. The people run around the lake and from the surrounding villages to meet Jesus when he sets anchor. Jesus does not send then away. He has compassion on them and continues to teach and heal their sick. This brings up the age old religious question: what’s more important, contemplation or action, prayer or going out there and working for peace, justice and equality? The answer is simple: yes. What good is our contemplation if it never results in helping others? What good is our action if it is not founded on and directed by prayer? The two go hand in hand. The trick is in the balance. The title of Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s posthumously published book says it all: Contemplation in a World of Action. With her December 1, 1955 bus ride, Rosa Parks, the Montgomery seamstress, was swept into her own version of balance. She was able to put together in one deed both rest and action. She needed to rest her tired feet. As she knew well, sometimes it’s time to take a bus ride. Are we ready to ride the bus?