Mark 6 contains several stories. This week we have a couple about compassion fatigue. Jesus, worn out with people, tries to escape somewhere quiet but they always find Him. What should He do? As Albert Schweitzer said “Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.”
I have been looking out some family medals that were awarded to my grandfathers. One, a pacifist, received the British Empire Medal for services to a benevolent society over many years. He visited widows and orphans over a wide area on a regular basis for most of his working and retired life. The other, a private in the army, had medals commemorating battles in South Africa and India; a different sort of service. He returned from the Boer War a broken man but still rose to the challenge of training boys for slaughter in the WW1. Both dedicated their lives to doing what they thought was right.
We all dedicate ourselves to causes, what else is there to live for? Some of these causes are rather selfish, some benefit other people, some benefit unborn generations. Some of our causes involve accumulating as much wealth to ourselves and our family as we can; others involve giving money away to people who have good ideas for working with it for positive purposes.
Jesus was tired of people but He responded to the need that people felt for his presence, His words and His healing touch. One Cherokee proverb goes something like this (my Cherokee is not what it was) “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”
We are told that politicians often worry about their “Legacy.” Perhaps we all should. After all, we benefit enormously from the legacy left by people in previous generations who refused to take the easy line. All that we really cherish; whether it be the National Trust, a trustworthy police force, unbiased courts, free education, the NHS, the right to vote; were won for us, often posthumously, by people who refused to abandon their causes.
So, what is to be our legacy? A nice house and garden that will be sold to a stranger? Spoilt children who grow up thinking they have more rights than responsibilities? An accumulated fortune to be disbursed to those who have not earned it? Or, can we leave the world a better place in some way?
This reflection seems to be full of quotes so, ignoring the more obvious ones, that grand old Irishman George Bernard Shaw said “Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”