St Bede comments on the great happiness of those times, which we witness through the hard work of those who taught and the enthusiasm of those who were taught: ‘If only in our time such a concourse of faithful hearers would again press round the ministers of the word.’ Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to understand everything he had told them. It is as though they return to the fountain-head from which all streams flow – which is indeed the case with Christ, Our Lord.
Not only do the Apostles tell the Lord what they had done, but we see from Matthew that his own disciples, and those of John, told him what John had suffered.
We see, again, the retreat into the desert, which is the type of our retreat into prayer where we are closer to God. Christ makes the disciples rest, so that they may know, even though set in positions of authority, that all men need a day of rest.
In going into the desert place, there was a test for the people – would they follow him – and we see that they passed that test
We can see here, as in the later passages, that Jesus tends first to the spiritual needs of those who follow him – but does not neglect their more earthly ones; but we might ask whether his priorities match our own? If not, then should we change? Do we put time with him into our daily routine, or are we ‘too busy’? Here we see Jesus and the Apostles are overwhelmed with the demands on them, but Jesus insists they make time for their own spiritual needs. He is the Good Shepherd, and if we follow his example, then he will lead us where we need to be.