Week of 2 Lent, Year Two[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 56, 57,  (morning) // 64, 65 (evening)
1 Corinthians 4:8-20(21)
Jesus in today’s gospel is, as he is so often, weary and totally overwhelmed. The passage emphasizes the large scale of the crowd following Jesus: they are “a great multitude,” they come “in great numbers,” and they hail from all over the place . . . even from “beyond the Jordan” and from “the region around Tyre and Sidon.” Jesus is even afraid that the crowd will crush him as they reach out for his curative touch.
It’s no surprise that this passage is full of escape plans. Jesus has just “departed . . . to the sea.” He asks his disciples to have a boat ready for when the crowds press in on him. And he goes up a mountain when he needs to get away. But each of these escape routes isn’t a way for Jesus to be alone. Rather, these routes and refuges all help Jesus to focus on the people whose company he longs for the most.
Jesus needs the fellowship of his closest friends, even more than he needs to be alone. When Jesus departs to the sea, he is “with his disciples.” They are the ones he trusts to have the boat ready amidst the crowd. And when he goes up the mountain, Jesus “called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.” In order to keep from being crushed, Jesus needs to make a distinction between the disciples whose companionship and help he desires, and the swarms of people with their even more numerous demands and needs.
In fact, when Jesus gives the apostles their job descriptions, the first of their duties is to spend time in his company: “he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message . . .” Jesus longs for people who will, first and foremost, be with him in a meaningful way. In the midst of needs and demands and people pressing in on us, will we find a place to be with Jesus and with those who matter most?
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.