Recent medical findings indicate that many diseases have become what is called as “diseases of civilization”. According to years of research made by Dr. Stephen Ilardi, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Kansas, these include diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, allergies, obesity, cancer, and lately, including clinical depression. Most of these are traceable to changing lifestyles and habits. Because of changing technological, social, physiological and the tendency of people to search for more wealth, people have become sedentary, indoor, socially-isolated, fast food-laden, sleep-deprived, and having frenzied pace of modern life. We have become less-connected to other people. There’s more connectivity but less connectedness!
In our busyness, some aspects of life are being neglected resulting in an unhealthy lifestyle. And yet we are not created to be such. We were created to be active, healthy and social beings. We are supposed to connect with others and engaged in meaningful conversations. We are supposed to be reflective and contemplative as well. Therefore, we need to balance our lives and need to rest regularly to allow ourselves to be refreshed and re-energized.
In the Gospel (Mk. 6: 30-34), the disciples have become so busy that they ‘had no opportunity even to eat.’ Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Even the Lord recognizes our frailty and humanity that we need to rest. One of my previous superiors would always ask us when our meetings were then threatening to steal our lunch, “Do we still have a lot for discussion this afternoon? If yes, then let’s have a break and resume at 1 PM.” There’s a need to rest, a time to re-charge.
Maintaining balance is needed in our spiritual, family, work, church, civic, academics, and other commitments of our life. When in one important activity, let’s devote our full attention to it. Let’s not be anxious about the other aspects as we lose present time over things that aren’t even happening yet.
As leaders in our homes, communities, church groups and others, we need to ensure that the people entrusted to us have adequate rest and balance in their lives. It is a challenge but it is needed to maintain sanity in this crazy world. Like Jesus, let us be good shepherds for them, caring for them, protecting them from the ‘hyenas’, ‘jackals’, ‘wolves’, and even ‘bears’ — the people who intimidate and harass them every day of their lives.
Also, the people who have — like the sheep in the Gospels — ‘strayed from the flock had to be sought out and brought back’ to the fold. Let us love and care for our people, so that ‘even when mixed with other flocks, could recognize the voice of their own shepherd and would come immediately when called by name.’
Ultimately, when we are in trouble and in pain, we can call on the Good Shepherd, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Psalms today (Psalm 23) is one that I know by heart, because every Catholic must recognize our dependence on God. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm 23:1). Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! (Psalm 80:1) We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (Psalm 100:3). The Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God’s people: He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arms (Isaiah 40:11).
Our Lord told His disciples many times, that He is the Good Shepherd who is willing to lay down His life for his sheep. And He did that on the Cross! He is the ultimate protector of people in need of protection and care, always moved to respond with compassion.
May we offer our missions and our work to the protection of the Good Shepherd who is ever ready to give us help, strength, and refuge.
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” (cf. Ps. 23: 1)