16th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mark 6:30-34.
Here is one of the most famous stories from the time of the ancient desert fathers: A young monk visited Abbot Moses and asked him for a word of wisdom. The old man said, “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”
Now, when you hear this, you may think: thank God I am not a monk. Or maybe you think this seems like punishment, like sending a child to their room to think about their bad behavior.
But, in his simple bit of wisdom, Abbot Moses addresses the two spiritual needs that Jesus found in people in today’s Gospel.
First, Jesus felt that the disciples needed a place to go away and rest.
Second, Jesus believed that the crowds were like “sheep without a shepherd.”
“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses recognizes the need for that solitary place. For Jesus, the need for a solitary place was so important that he made it part of his daily rhythm. Where is that cell for you? That desert? That solitary place?
“The cell will teach you everything.” We have need of a shepherd, a teacher, a guide. We all need to submit, surrender and receive direction and guidance from God. Not everyone can have a personal spiritual director, but we can always receive guidance from the Holy Spirit with a daily spiritual practice.
When we leave the quiet and calm of this church today, there are all sorts of competing distractions and messages. Many people want you to come to their places, they want you to surrender to their teachings.
So you might want to reconsider Abbot Moses: “Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”