Fr Paul Gooley reads today’s Gospel from Mark (6:30-34) in which Jesus encourages the disciples, after their time away on mission, to take time out with him in a quiet place to rest. Fr Paul says at both beginning and end of this section of the Gospel we are reminded that the foremost duty of the disciples is to be with Jesus: ‘they were to be with him’ (Mark 3.14), whatever else they do. At the beginning the disciples who had been sent out on their mission return to Jesus, and at the end the much larger crowd ‘from every town’, who had searched for him so determinedly and successfully, are welcomed and pitied by Jesus. Furthermore, he begins to teach them. Sheep without a shepherd are the picture of helplessness. This picture will become even clearer with the feeding of the five thousand in the green pastures beside the restful waters of the Lake of Galilee. The passage therefore serves as part of the discovery of who Jesus is. His wonderful actions and his teaching have led the crowds to search eagerly for him. He pities them and shows them the divine mercy – the Greek word is related to ‘guts’, so it is a profound ‘gut-feeling’ – and yet he, repeatedly, withdraws to be alone with his disciples to be sure that they understand his teaching. To be alone with Jesus is an essential part of their calling. In closing Fr Paul reminds of today’s Gospel Lesson – it is a duty of a disciple to just ‘be’ with Jesus.