One of the very common stories, known to many of us, goes thus…
There was a woodcutter who asked a timber merchant for a job.
Seeing the strong person, the timber merchant, was obviously very obliging.
The promised pay was good… and so were the working conditions.
Therefore, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
The woodcutter was given the axe and was shown the place of work.
The first day at work, the woodcutter cut down eighteen trees.
“Great work!” said the merchant, ” You are doing very well!”
The encouraging words of his master, motivated the woodcutter to try harder, the next day.
But he could cut only fifteen.
The third day, the number came down to ten.
As days progressed, he could cut fewer and fewer trees.
“I must be surely losing my strength! Something is wrong with me!” the woodcutter thought to himself.
He went to his merchant and apologized, saying that he could not understand why he was not able to progress well in his work.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” enquired the merchant.
What? I have had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been busy all through, cutting the trees! said the woodcutter.
The “busy”ness of the woodcutter badly affected his “business” of cutting trees!
The reason was simple: no time was given to sharpen the axe!
Lesser the sharpening of the axe, lesser was the productivity of work!
Is our life also so “busy” that we fail to “sharpen the axe”?
Our Blessed Lord, through today’s Gospel, invites us to “rest awhile”, in order to get “our axe sharpened” and thus to be more effective in our life as a missionary for the Kingdom of God.
The context of the Gospel is:
The Twelve Apostles had been sent on a mission to the villages ( Mk 6: 7-13)
After they returned back (Mk 6: 30-33) and reported all what they had done, Jesus makes an invitation, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while” (Mk 6: 31)
The evangelist Mark also highlights another point: “For many (people) were coming and going in great numbers and they had no opportunity, even to eat.
Jesus, the Master Missionary knew very well, that “every work had to also be equally supplemented with a period or rest and refreshment”
Jesus’ own life was marked by this great and strict discipline…
… Immense activity and ministry through the day
… Intense rest and prayer with the Father at night
And so He also tells His disciples of the need to “come away, by themselves to a lonely place, and rest a while”
How often is our life submerged in excess work and intense activities…
Pope Francis in one of his popular and noted exhortations, especially to the leaders of the Church had mentioned “Excessive Activity” as one of the diseases that was crippling our life.
Our Christian lives seriously need a great examination….
Am I submerging myself in an excess of work and finding “no time” for other important dimensions of life?
Do I engage so much in work, that I do not get time to spend sometime atleast, daily, with the Lord…
He is the One who blesses us with graces to do work
He is the One who supplies strength and good health
Do we, however, make time for Him, everyday, without fail…
… through personal prayer, which is strictly uncompromised for any other activity
… through reading His Word in the Holy Bible and taking sometime to grow in His Love
… through making honest efforts to grow in Christian Virtues
Do I submerge myself in so many activities that I fail to give time for others…
My family, my community, my friends, those in need … Do all these find place in the “busy” schedule of life?
Do I also give time for myself…
… giving rest for my body
… enriching my skills, updating my knowledge, growing in values
… rooting out evils from life, seeking to plug in the holes that “drain out my energy”…
The Lord today makes this open invitation to all of us.. “to rest in Him”
This invitation finds concrete expression in Jesus, present in the Holy Eucharist, continually inviting us ” to waste time with Him”
Shall we not positively respond to this “loving longing” and this “crazy craving” of our Blessed Lord to spend more time with us…
It is His wish that He wants us to be with Him
It is His longing to spend a few minutes with Him
May we respond to this call positively and “sharpen the axes” of our life, so that we can live a much more effective and credible life as a Christian!
God Bless! Live Jesus!