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Benjamin Jansen S.J.Feb 3, 2024 12:00:00 AM1 min read

3 February 2024

Optional Memorial of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

These words of Jesus are just as essential for us today in the modern world than they have ever been for a number of reasons. For one, the world is busier, noisier, and more rife with distractions than it has ever been. No matter one’s occupation or state in life, proper prioritization of self-care is essential for physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being. We have to make time for proper rest and rejuvenation and we see that Jesus enjoins this wisdom on his own Apostles. One cannot give what one does not have, and our Lord Himself recognizes the necessity of taking time to recreate, reflect, and recharge. 
And consider the circumstances of this passage: the Apostles have just returned from visiting nearby villages where they preached, taught, drove out demons, and healed the sick. Not only had they just returned from significant physical and spiritual exertion, they had a lot of new experiences to reflect on and process. I certainly would have if I were in their position. Once again, Jesus knows all of this and calls them to take the rest they need so that they can renew and re-ready themselves for continued labors in His service.
Another critical aspect of retreat to a deserted place is the necessity of making time and space for quiet prayer in our daily lives. It is only in so doing that we will be able to discern the tiny, whispering voice of God in our own hearts (1 Kings 19:12). One cannot have a meaningful relationship with a person that they do not spend quality time with. Our relationship with God similarly cannot flourish if we do not intentionally prioritize spending quality one-on-one time with Him. In addition to Jesus’ admonition to the Apostles today, we frequently observe that Jesus also practices what He preaches and frequently retreats from the crowds to spend quiet time alone with God. In imitation of our Lord, we have to intentionally make time and space to properly nourish our own relationship with God, which is ultimately the foundation of everything that we are and have.