I am always exhausted after Christmas. Though the season is fun,
I quietly look forward to putting away all of the decorations, taking
down the Christmas lights, packing them all away, getting back on
my diet and exercise routine, and returning to a little normalcy.
Today’s readings are about just that: normalcy. In the Church
calendar, we have returned to “ordinary” time. I believe
this is an ecclesiastical reference to the Church’s progression
through the year, but it’s not all that unreasonable to also
consider it by its more common definition, “commonplace or
of no special quality or interest” (dictionary.com). This
connotes a time of rest, even in the Church’s calendar, before
we begin looking forward to Lent and Easter.
The first reading, a portion of the letter to the Hebrews, speaks
to us about rest as well, that rest that was won on the seventh
day. It is a rest to be “entered into.” That is one
directive that is easy to follow; most of us are more than happy
to enter into rest (the temporary kind, not the eternal kind, of
Those of us here at Creighton who are on the academic calendar appreciate
the time between semesters as a time of rest. The students go home
or travel. The faculty members also go places, or stay at home and
put their feet up in front of a cozy fireplace to do research and
prepare courses. Even though staff members (like me) have to work
(outside of Creighton’s generous holiday leave), the pace
of the day is different. We are finally able to complete tasks that
have been waiting all semester. We have the time to clean our desks
and offices, take care of filing, review our departmental budgets,
and get everything into shape and ready for the new semester. It’s
not rest, per se, but the different pace promotes a balance that
is restorative. Even when we are working hard, it’s a restful
Likewise, in today’s Gospel reading, it appears that Jesus
is getting a working rest. He is “at home,” presumably
taking it easy from His pressured life of ministry. Then His disciples
find out where He is, and the house fills to overflowing. As a younger
man, I used to wonder if Jesus considered this an interruption to
His quiet time at home. Was He irritated at the intrusion of all
these people? Was He just a little ticked off when they opened a
hole in the roof to lower yet another needy person down to Him?
Nothing in the passage indicates this. Instead, Jesus is moved to
preach, to teach, and to heal.
I believe that this is the key to this Gospel passage and to Jesus’
ministry as well. Teaching, preaching, healing – they flowed
out of His spirit. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus could
not stop doing these things any more than He could stop breathing.
The “rest” part was that He could do them at home, with
His family, alongside people that He trusted.
Notice, though, that the ever-present scribes were also there to
test Him. Even there – in the friendly confines of His family
home – He was subject to criticism and scorn. And even there,
He dealt with the criticism in the same way that He dealt with it
on the outside – by outwitting His critics and making them
step into their own traps.
So during these “ordinary” times let us dwell on our
own ministries. Do they flow out naturally from our beings, utilizing
our talents and gifts appropriately? Are they shared in our homes
as well as the outside? Do people have to cut a hole in our roof
just to get a few moments of our undivided attention?
Enjoy your “rest.”