In ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little children. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.” The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.” Aesop was talking about balance.
As followers of Christ we need to realize that Jesus advocated balance in life. He never asked us to be so involved in doing good that we neglect our need for leisure, for rest, for family, for friends. He showed it by his own example as we hear him telling the disciples in today’s gospel: “Let’s get away to a lonely place by ourselves and rest a while.” Read Mark 6:30-32 and you will see that Jesus realized that he and his disciples were overstretched in attending to the constant demands the people made on their time. They needed a break away from everyone and everything.
We are half-way through the summer time of vacation and relaxation. But are we really relaxed? Some parents may find that what they thought was a relaxed summer is actually a stressful one. I was impressed by a blogger who reminded the parents that summer is a break from routine, and not a break from parenting: “Seeds grow slowly; chicks hatch when they are ready; important things take time. Children and teens don’t understand time — they want what they want when they want it. We too often react by jumping on their timeline. When we contort ourselves to suit their whims, we not only upend our lives, we give away the opportunity to teach them about patience.”
The same applies to our inner life too. Can this summer be a time to attend to and grow in our spiritual self? Can we use this summer as a wonderful opportunity to enrich ourselves with some knowledge of our faith? When media gurus suggest summer reading lists, why not make our own list of faith-related summer readings? I would suggest to get any of the writings of Pope Francis that you can freely download. Whether it is “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel” or “Laudato Si – On the Care of Creation” or “Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love” or “Gaudete et Exsultate – Rejoice and Be Glad,” (our newly Vocations Committee will be asking us all to read this last one), you will find that you are in for a treat.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal