It’s easy to feel overwhelmed today. At home, at work, at school, people are pulled in a thousand different directions. Parents chauffeur their children from soccer match to basketball game to piano lesson. Work follows wherever we go. Anywhere, at anytime, there are phone calls, text messages and emails. All of them expect immediate responses. It can happen that we get so caught up in the things that need to be done, that we forget why we are even doing them. We lose the forest for the trees. When that happens, it is critical to find perspective. It is essential to take a step back, to break a bit from the rattle of the world, to silence all the ringing and buzzing and find a cozy corner of silence. In a secluded spot, as the din dies down, God’s voice rises. His word refreshes and directs the soul.
We see this happen in the life of Jesus. Already in the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is swarmed by people and their demands: “the whole town was gathered at the door.” They bring him their sick, their ill, and even the possessed. He spends all day curing and driving out demons. As the gospel reading continues, it seems as though Jesus becomes a bit overwhelmed: “rising early before dawn, he left, and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.” He sneaks away. Perhaps he is worried that with all of the focus on healing, he might lose sight of his central mission to preach. He needs to talk with his Father. Finding Jesus, the disciples say, “everyone is looking for you,” which means, “come back and continue your works of healing.” But fresh from prayer, Jesus responds, “let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Emerging from the refuge of his prayer, Jesus’ perspective and purpose are renewed.
We all need a place set apart from our daily activities, a place where we can pray and listen to the voice of God. We all need a prayerful place of perspective. God has given that to us in the Holy Mass. Every week, God calls us apart from the world and its activity. He calls us to the Church as a refuge. Removed from our responsibilities and concerns, at the Mass we have the chance to gain new perspective. We hear God speak through his word. In the Eucharist, we are fed and satisfied by his very presence. Innumerable souls emerge from Sunday Mass with renewed vision, a renewed sense of who they are and what they are called to be. Who would ever miss it?