As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Holy people want to help everyone in need, and they can find it difficult to say “no.” But there are only 24 hours in a day. Ignatius learned from experience that saying “yes” to everyone leads to exhaustion, and then to burnout, and then to being no good for anyone.
Consequently, Ignatius advised Jesuits to choose those ministries that will enable them to bring the greater number of people closer to God, and then to have the courage to let the other good options go. He also reminded Jesuits to take time for themselves. Both can be hard. But at the end of the day, holy people have to acknowledge that only God is God.
Today’s Gospel makes the same points. Even Jesus could not be in two places at once. Though needy people in Capernaum were still looking for him, he chose to continue to the neighboring towns. But that is why he invites disciples to help him.
Although many holy works and ways of helping your neighbor are possible, discretion must be your guide in the choice you must make, since it is obvious that you cannot do everything. But never lose sight of the greater service of God and the common good.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola
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