Every day Jesus was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple. (Luke 21.37-38)
Another day ends. Luke suggests that rather than heading over the Mount of Olives into Bethany Jesus stayed on the Mount itself. We know from other references in the gospels that Jesus was in the habit of taking himself off, finding space to be alone and to pray. There are occasions in Galilee when he tries to get time on his own and then people follow him because they have discovered where he has taken himself to and want to be with him. Was this evening one of those occasions, when he just needed to get away from everyone else and clear his head and say his prayers?
It can be difficult to find time alone and especially when we share our life with others. Is it right to go into a room and sit on my own when the family are all together, when I shold be attending to their needs? It may be that we feel selfsish if we think that I have needs that need to be met, that I can give time to myself.
But the truth is that however much we may be devoted to family and friends yet we can’t keep on giving without recieving and we can’t recieve unless we are open to that and available to that. The biggest temptation that I struggle with, and fail at miserably, is an inability to say ‘no’ and a reluctance to not be active but to simply sit and ‘be’. But, as I am often reminded by those who care for me, you can’t continue to help others unless you help yourself as well.
Those of us who have flown will be familiar with the safety demonstration that the air stewards perform before take off. We are shown the safety card ad the brace position, the inflatable jacket and the oxygen mask. When the latter is presented to us we’re told, ‘first put on your own mask before helping someone else’ or words to that effect. It is counter-cultural. I must help my neighbour first and then myself. But you can’t, certainly not in that situation. You will be of no use dead!
Look on prayer and rest and reflection as the oxygen for the soul that you need. Look at time on your own as the oxygen mask that you need in order to be the servant of others. Jesus took himself off to be alone; so why wouldn’t we?
Lord, may I rest in you tonight
and wake refreshed
ready to serve you
and my neighbour tomorrow.