Much like the respite promised to the disciples in today's Gospel, the "rest" of the summer can seem thwarted - or elusive. For many the summer is a longed-for time to attack projects and plan time with family and friends: cleaning the garage, emptying the attic, visiting relatives, etc. And somehow, amid the tasks and plans, most of us imagine that the summer will also hold endless moments of leisure and relaxation. After a short time, we can begin to feel like the apostles must have felt when they arrived at the "deserted place" only to find that the crowds were awaiting them.
Sometimes we are called beyond the littleness of our own plans to attend to the circumstances which the Lord permits in our life. Surely Jesus was as tired as the disciples were when he invited them to take a rest; Jesus' reaction, however, to the crowd which filled the "deserted place" was one of compassion and "he began to teach them many things." Sometimes we are called to adjust our plans and our expectations to suit the needs of the present moment. Sometimes we are called to readjust our priorities and our schedule before we even have a chance to begin some of what we set out to accomplish. This takes great trust in the Lord's providential care for us. Jesus practiced this hidden virtue at every turn in his journey on earth.
The next time our plans to find a "deserted place" are frustrated, let us remember the example of Jesus and his disciples. Let us remember that the circumstances in which the Lord permits us to find ourselves contain countless opportunities for us to unite ourselves to His will. Embracing these circumstances is a great mark of virtue. When asked if a sister should miss Mass on a holy day of obligation in order to remain in the infirmary with a sick sister, St. Francis de Sales replied:
"You may and you should lose Mass to stay with her, even though no harm would come to her if she were left alone; for remember, charity and the holy sweet love of our dear Mother Church are above all things."