by Fr. Luis Hernandez, chaplain
Jesus was very conscious of his mission in the world. He knew, as the Son of God, that He was bringing salvation through his words and actions. So much so that He began passing on part of that mission to his disciples, in order to be more “efficient” and to make that mission last after his own death.
Still, at a certain point, when the disciples returned from one of their tours, Jesus said to them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mk 6:31). In a way, we could say that He was blessing the institution of vacation: some time for rest and recreation. Our faith, therefore, should help us in this field too, so that we can enjoy some time of vacation, receive some relief and refreshment, enjoy different activities and also be somehow “efficient”.
In a recent discussion with our Young Adult Group at the Shrine, we were sharing our views on the use of free time. First, a good point was raised regarding the amount of free time that we allow ourselves to have, every day, week, or year. Someone who always works and never “rests a while” is not necessarily more efficient in his or her work, and shows instead a fear of confronting an eventual void. Secondly, everyone agreed to the following idea: there are ways in which free time is not used in a helpful way. Many young people shared how planned and thoughtful decisions can transform free time into an occasion of growth and well-being, whereas “killing time” is not constructive in itself. Also, the need for personal interaction and relationships was found a very fitting purpose to give to our vacation or free time.
The first take-away that is always valid for everyone is that we shouldn’t accept “a busman’s holiday”, doing the same things we do in our job. In other words, we all need some free time spent in pursuits different from our own work.
In the choices we make in our free time or vacation, we show what we actually desire and love. There is a tendency to judge our value, the weight of our days, according to how seriously we take our work, our tenaciousness and loyalty, our goals and achievements. Still, it is in our free time, precisely because we are free to choose how to spend it, when we show what we really care for. It is in our free time when we decide which things are essential, optional, or irrelevant for us.
Whenever someone wastes his or her own free time, it means he or she does not love life. On the contrary, a week of vacation can become the noblest time of the year, because it is the moment when we may become involved in the values recognized as definitive.
Therefore, during vacation days or weeks we have the opportunity to practice and live gratuitousness, faithfulness to prayer, true relationships, self-dedication, enthusiasm, a humble approach to reality, emotional involvement, and compassion. Let us, then, come away and take some rest!