HOMILY: Come Away and Rest Awhile

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 18/19, 2015

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

Over the last two weeks, I had the privilege of serving as a summer program director for my Nativity students.

24/7 I was on call ensuring that my students got to their classes, finished their homework, got their exercise, ate their vegetables, went to sleep and of course I tried to make sure none of them died.  You know, the typical job requirement of a camp director.

And I know this may shock you all, but I was a tad exhausted by the time it was all said and done.

There were numerous moments in which I would have loved to have heard Jesus say . . . Come away by yourself to a deserted place and rest awhile.

And yet, I never seemed to get that lucky.

Inevitably, in that moment when I thought I could take a nap or make a phone call, some chaos would break loose.

Fr. Brian, my toilet is overflowing. Can you fix it?

Fr. Brian, I got sent out of class.  Can I talk to you?

Fr. Brian, I don’t understand this book.  Will you read with me?

Fr. Brian, I’m homesick. Can I have a hug?

Fr. Brian, I don’t feel well.  Can you make it better?

And in each of those moments, I realized that I was faced with the same choice that Jesus faced when he reached the opposite shore.

What does one do with the interruptions to our plans?

What does one do when we are tired and worn and yet someone else asks of us to give of ourselves once again?

Now, I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.  Nor do I believe that Jesus is asking us to become workaholics or doormats for other people.

But I also know that it is in often these “divine” interruptions that I have encountered God.

The God alive and at work in each of my students.

And in turn, I came to see how God was using me to be his presence to his sheep, to his children in need.

Whether it was holding the hand of a student as they got an IV or putting a comforting arm around a kid as they cried.

Whether it was reminding a student that they possess limitless potential or challenging a student to become the young man that they are called to be.

I was able to be the face of Christ to those desperately searching for His word, His touch, His love.

No, these moments were not planned.  And yes, they came with a cost.

But at the end of the day, it was those moments that make what I do worth it.  It is those moments in which I know that I am where God wants me to be.

My friends, I believe that each of us must constantly navigate this struggle.

The struggle to balance our plans with the interruptions that will inevitably come.

The struggle to balance our own need for rest and relaxation with the inevitably of people who need us to be Christ for them in that moment.

And as I said before, I don’t believe that there is a right answer.

All I know is that it is often in those moments in which our plans are scrambled that we find God.

It is often in those moments in which we don’t feel that we have anything left to give that we are able to give the one thing that someone else needs.

So whether it is our child who interrupts us for a bedtime story or our co-worker who stops by our cubicle at 5 to talk some things through.

Whether it is the childhood friend who just stops by the house because he needs a shoulder to cry on or the teammate who asks us to sacrifice our playing time to work with her.

May we remain open to the God alive and at work in these moments.  Those moments that may be inconveniences, interruptions or opportunities depending on our point of view.

May we remain open to the God alive and at work in each person we encounter.

The God alive and at work in us, ushering in the Kingdom and shepherding his sheep.

May God be Praised.

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