Today’s readings seem rough at first. They speak of drudgery, work, stewardship, early mornings, and vast crowds. The busy business of life proclaimed across hundreds of years and which we, two thousand years after Jesus and Paul’s words, we too know the drudgery and busy business of daily life.
We often feel it in our bones. We’re fine, but busy. Nothing extraordinary, just life. That busy pace, especially under the continuing extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic take their toll. We feel the words of Job who does not find rest at night nor peace during the day. We manage to survive each day.
Jesus presents us with a reminder of how we can search to break free from the drudgery, the “I’m fine.” Two key pieces are in today’s Gospel.
First, Jesus got up early and prayed. He knew he was going to be busy. He knew the crowds and demands. He also knew he needed to spend time with God in prayer. Now, not all of us are morning people or have the luxury of undisturbed mornings (I see you moms with little ones crawling into bed with you or crying for a diaper change). Maybe you’re a night owl, who finds some time in the stillness of the midnight hour to listen and talk with God. It is hard to make time, I know, but making the time to spend with God will help transform each day. Even those days of drudgery, that time in prayer is crucial.
Second, and perhaps a bit more challenging, Jesus knew why he was doing all he was doing. He knew his purpose. There is value in taking the time to discern why you do what you do. Sometimes it is obvious – love of family or friends, needing to pay the bills. It is important though to also make the time for reflection, to ask the why, to talk with God about your purpose, your vocation. It is also important to spend that time listening to God and wise figures around you for when changes are needed or invited.
Neither of these will provide a quick solution nor will they ensure you never have a bad day again. They are simply two key parts of Christian living. Their essence is building your relationship with God and your relationship with yourself.