Interruptions

Henri Nouwen in his book Reaching Out said that he originally saw interruptions as unwelcome distractions to his work until he realised that those interruptions were his work.

In The Gospel we hear how Jesus and disciples were going away to a lonely place to rest a while. They had worked hard yet the people interrupted them by their persistence in following them. Jesus could have felt resentful. He and his disciples needed to rest. He could have thought what right did those people have to impinge on private time? Yet it tells us that Jesus took pity on them, and he set himself to teach them at some length.

The word pity used in the Gospel today means much more than simply feeling sorry for someone. It means to suffer for and with by doing something for someone. Jesus as the Good Shepherd is the model. He had decided to rest yet he changed his mind. He put himself straight back to work. He saw that these people needed to be healed and they needed to be loved. This led him to put the needs of the people before his own.

What God is saying to us in our Gospel today is that the interruptions and distractions are filled with the teaching and preaching of what God expects of us.

I believe the Gospel invites a couple of questions for reflection. How do I respond when I am interrupted? Am I living the kind of life that shows that I have a shepherd whose example I seek to follow? Answers to these questions will determine whether I will truly seek the good of others and put their needs above my own.