As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd;
and he had compassion for them,
because they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
It feels like coming back from vacation, which I just did. Jesus has sent the twelve out to surrounding towns to heal and call people to repentance. As they are at it, Mark reminds us of the death of John the Baptist, and the cost of discipleship. When they return, rejoicing in their successes, Jesus invites them to a deserted place for some solitude. But a crowd greets them there, and Jesus responds to their needs.
We might think how frustrating, how exhausting for Jesus, seeking solitude and instead being accosted by a needy crowd. But Jesus is not exhausted. He has not been out healing; the disciples were. That's why he sent them out, so he could get some solitude. He was ready.
We are called to join God in the healing of the world. But we are not called to drain ourselves. Our ministry, our healing and teaching, come from our solitude. First we receive God's blessings and grace, then we pass them on.
God, help me seek your presence
in solitude and quiet
so that I may serve you in the hustle and bustle.
By your Spirit I breathe in,
so that I may breathe out.
—July 17, 2018