When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
I am sure many of you have tried to get out, away for a little vacation this year, even though things are still restricted due to the COVID-19 virus. Even Jesus took time to get away, to pray and seek the Father’s consolation and strengthening to continue His mission of salvation. Many times in the Gospels we see how Jesus does great works, heals and ministers to the people on the peripheries of society; then He recedes and takes time to renew and prepare for His greatest work, the cross.
What do you do with your time away or vacation? It is always great to relax and take a break, but when we do so, it is also necessary to renew and refresh our prayer life. Too often, many good and faithful Christians get out for vacation or a few extra days off, and end up vacationing from God as well.
Maybe a few questions might help for your reflection:
Do you make Sunday Mass or worship a priority while away on vacations?
Is worship and prayer a part of your plan or itinerary of things to do?
Do you stop and visit churches along the way?
Do you pray as a family while you are away?
If you answered yes to these questions, praise God! But I feel that more often than not, many people answer no to these questions. An honest reflection might reveal a need to practice and live your faith, even when you are away or on vacation.
If Jesus needed to pray and refresh His Spirit, how much more do we? Wouldn’t it be great to think that every time we go on a trip or vacation, we pray before, during and after we return. It can be a lot of fun for the family to research and anticipate a visit to a new church, a historical religious site or an event that involves faith and worship.
My encouragement to you is this: As you plan your last minute or end of summer getaways, pack a bag for Jesus. Don’t leave faith at home or walk away from your prayer. In my experience, prayer and Scripture reflection actually help to relax and ease the mind and body.
Maybe your next vacation or trip away could be like no other before it, simply because it was filled with faith and prayer and new experiences of God’s love for you and your family.
Take Jesus on vacation with you and see everything in a whole new light!
The Rev. Joshua Brown
St. Patrick Catholic Church