When we meet Jesus and the disciples in our gospel today, two things happen: “The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’”
But if we pick up the scripture right there, we miss a key ingredient of the story.
What just happened? What did we read about last week?
Mark doesn’t tell us what we know actually happened.
In the same conversation where the disciples tell Jesus all the good they have been able to do in his name, he has to break the terrible news to them: John the Baptist has been beheaded.
Can you imagine the grief and pain and fear that broke over them at hearing that Jesus has just lost his cousin and the world has just lost a great prophet?
So Jesus took them away to a deserted place to rest, not just from the clamor of the crowds and the tiring ministry work they’d been doing, but to give them some space to be alone as a small family to come to terms with the blow they’d been dealt.
It must have been a profoundly disillusioning moment for the disciples.
They’d just gone out and healed the sick and preached the good news to the poor.
They’d really seen people’s lives being changed by the message they had been sent out to deliver.
Then to come back and find that John the Baptist had been executed—it is one of those moments of wondering, “What is the point of all this? Where is God in the midst of this?”
We’ve all had moments like this lately as we’ve watched the news in our world around us, with one act of gun violence piling up on another.
And I have had one of those moments of combined disillusionment and grief in hearing the news about Atticus Finch. Continue reading