Sunday, July 22, 2012
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By the end of 2011 a whopping 57% of American workers had unused vacation days that they left on the table. According to CNNMoney, the average worker had eleven days of vacation that they never used. While there is no clear statistical data on the reasons for so much vacation time being shunted aside, anecdotal reports typically break into several categories.
Some workers cite fear of losing their jobs as one factor. These folks feel that if they take vacation, their supervisor may perceive that they are not hard-working enough, and so find reasons to let them go, a fear magnified in these difficult economic times.
Another group of workers describe how they are afraid to go on vacation because of what they may come back to when they return. Folks in this category are often middle management types who don't necessarily have a backup person because the company has streamlined its workforce. These workers explain that when they are away from the office, the work piles up and when they return they must spend extra hours to just catch up.
A third group that leaves vacation hours unused are those who feel that they cannot afford to travel, so why take vacation. Some of these save up time in hopes of getting away on some exciting vacation, only to see their hours expire because they've never been able to make their dream happen.
Recent advertising campaigns have tapped into the desire of Americans to go on vacation, yet their reticence to actually do it. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau launched a campaign called "Take Back your Summer" in which a woman stands on a desk holding a sign "Vacation Now." And McDonalds has followed a similar trend with its campaign "Go to Lunch Now."
There are plenty of studies that suggest that vacation actually helps improve worker productivity. Often, those who have an extended time away (as opposed to a three-day weekend) come back energized, with new vigor and ideas.
While this weekend's Gospel is not a vacation travelogue of Jesus and his disciples, it is an acknowledgement that they had been working hard and needed some time for renewal and refreshment. Jesus takes them to an out of the way place so that they can rest. Even though people figured out where they were going and didn't give them any peace, Jesus still had in mind that his disciples needed some rest.
It's good that this Gospel comes in the summer, when so many of us actually do take vacation. It is a reminder that care for oneself is also the responsibility of the Christian. Taking some time away to relax is ensuring that we are renewed for the work at hand, including the work of spreading the Gospel. There is no vacation from Christian charity; that is always our job. But we can renew ourselves through a complete change of pace and come back to our daily life refreshed and ready to once again serve God through loving our brothers and sisters.
God who made all things,
and who entrusted creation to humankind for our benefit,
renew us by the gift of your Spirit
and refresh us with the gentle dewfall of your grace.
Help us to enjoy the gifts of time and creation
so that rejoicing in your abundant gifts
we may show your love to our brothers and sisters.
We ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
YEAR OF FAITH
Pope Benedict has announced a "Year of Faith" beginning on October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The USCCB has already begun posting resources on its website. You can find these items, which will help in your parish planning, at: http://usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/index.cfm.
THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH—E-BOOK VERSION
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has been released as an e-Book by the USCCB. This new, easy-to-navigate version, offer quick search capabilities, preview windows, and easy links to follow up on topics. Share the link in your parish bulletin, school and religious education flyers, and monthly newsletter. You'll find this excellent resource at: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm.
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