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Love Your Traveling Partners As Yourself

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

My dear encountered couples:

The apostles had just returned from a preaching mission Jesus had sent them out on and he knew they were tired. And so, he suggested, “Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.” That is what a lot of people are doing this summer. Millions are getting away from their year-round work and going off on a vacation. Would that everybody could be so fortunate! We could all use a bit of change and rest from the usual. It seems, though, it didn’t last long for Jesus arid his traveling partners:

“Jesus and his apostles went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving, and many got to know about it. People from all the towns hastened on foot to the place, arriving ahead of them. Upon disembarking Jesus saw a vast crowd. He pitied them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them.” So much for their vacation. It was back to work for Jesus and his apostles. Though their time off didn’t go as they might have hoped, I get the impression they enjoyed so much their being together and doing things for other people that no matter what came up to spoil their plans, it didn’t get them all bent out of shape.

Our vacations and holidays don’t always turn out as we might hope. We make plans, arrange ahead of time where we will go, where we will stay, and what we will do when we get there. But is that the way it always goes? The more we allow our enjoyment to depend on binding plans and reservations, the more it seems we leave ourselves open to disappointment and quarrels.

Let us never forget the age-old saying: Man proposes, God disposes. We can plan our vacations, but God can change them - and for reasons not always clear to us. We just have to keep reminding ourselves of an important fact we already know, but often forget: There is never anything that happens that is not either permitted or made to happen by God for our good. And that includes the time we are on vacation.

God has known from all eternity what will happen on our trips to the beach, our sojourns in the mountains, our travels to our most favorite places in the world. And he has already decided how he is going to make it possible for the best to come out of all of it. Whether the sun shines or the rain falls on our picnics, God is able to make it the most profitable picnic of our lives, depending on our reactions of course.

If we allow ourselves to have a good measure of flexibility and awareness of the possibility of change in our plans, if we can learn how to sit back, trust in God, and go with the flow, every vacation can turn out just fine. Easier said than done, isn’t it? But possible. Traveling can be more important for us than the destination; the process can be more important than the goal.

How we conduct ourselves during the process of our traveling, how we treat the people we are with, how we handle the unexpected situations that come up - all go into determining the quality of our trip and the benefit to us.

Giving ourselves fully and as cheerfully as we can to the here and now is not only a good policy for our vacations, it is a good habit to get into for every day of our lives. Is it really necessary that we get everything in that we plan? That we see this, do that, accomplish everything on our schedules? I think it is more important that we try to enjoy whatever it is we are doing, the unplanned as well as the planned. And do our best to help those with us enjoy it too? It would be nice to give everybody a turn in making the choice of activities for the day. And put ourselves into seeing that those choices are realized with as much enjoyment, satisfaction, and fun as possible.

What makes for a good vacation is a patient attitude towards every-thing and everybody, and a good sense of humor. Not everyone needs to go to the bathroom at the same time. But Fred and Susan did!

Fred, Susan and their two boys were traveling all night. Jimmy was riding in the front with Dad, asleep, Susan and little Johnny in the back, also asleep. Dad, that’s Fred, needs a pit stop. While in the rest room of an all-night convenient mart, his wife Susan wakes up. She decides to go to the rest room too.

Fred returns to the car, gets in, takes off. The kids are still asleep. When Susan returns from the rest room you can imagine her surprise. “Where are they?” she shouts. “I think they just drove off,” informs the attendant. She panics, runs up to a man just about to leave. “My husband has driven off without me. He thinks I’m asleep in the back seat.” “Hop in,” he tells her. And off they go in wild pursuit. “There they are,” she says, “that brown station wagon up ahead.” The man toots his horn, Fred speeds up. So, the man floors the pedal and pulls alongside, Susan hanging out the window. “Fred! Fred! Stop! It’s me!” Her hair blowing in the wind makes her look like Phyllis Diller in a nor’easter. “Who’s that old hag,” Fred wonders. On they go until little Johnny wakes up in the back seat. “Hey Dad, where’s Mom?” The old “hag” started to look familiar. You can imagine the rest of the story.

As unexpected as that was for all of them, it was the one thing about their trip they never forgot. It happened over thirty years ago in real life (the names have been changed) and they are still telling it. They adjusted and have had many good laughs.

Anger and bad moods have no place on a vacation. Leave bad moods at home. Better still, never let bad moods make decisions for you - at home, at work, school, or on vacations. Bad moods are a luxury none of us can afford. We don’t have time for them.

Wherever we are, in whatever situation we find ourselves, is more important than where we would like to be, or what else we might prefer to be doing. For a vacation, for that matter any time of the year, if we would just try to live in the present, relax, see worth in it, and try to enjoy it, we’d be much better off mentally, physically, and spiritually. Giving our attention and concern, our smiles and our laughter, the best of the best we have in us to those we are with is worth much more than sunshine, ice cream, and luxury hotels. We might like all those things, but it is the people we are with, and us, who make for a good time.

Jesus said to his apostles, “Come by yourselves to an out-of—the-way place and rest a little.” I hope you get time off to rest this summer. Maybe you’ve already had it. How did it go? Whether we stay home or travel to the far corners of the world, we make or break the vacation not only for ourselves, but for those special people with us. Love your traveling partners as yourself, and you will have a good time.

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