Making space for others

Last Wednesday just before mass I was reflecting on the Gospel of the day (Matthew 11:25-30). Jesus is praying a prayer of thanksgiving to his Father for revealing things to children. It is not that our God wants adults to go around acting like children again but rather wants us to take on a childlike trust when it comes to our relationship with God. We are called to trust that God will take care of us. I think this prayer of Jesus is also one of relief and of gladness that after encountering hostility Jesus came across a situation where people understood his message. What is it that our God wants us to understand?

Last week I spoke about clearing out the clutter in our lives and how this was necessary for the disciples if they were to follow Jesus wholeheartedly (Mark 6:7-13). Clearing ourselves of excess opens the possibility of a greater generosity to take place in our lives. This is certainly the case in this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 6:30-34) where we hear about Jesus and his disciples going off to a lonely place where they could be by themselves and yet were disturbed by the crowds who had decided to follow them. A case could definitely be made for a legitimate need to rest. Another case could definitely be made that the crowds had no right to follow Jesus and his disciples and disturb their quiet time. Yet we see Jesus did not insist on his rights but rather gave himself over to the crowds because he could see their needs. He saw how desperate they were that he gives them his full attention. He is the model of how to lead a simple life. Because there is nothing he is hanging onto he is able to change course in a heartbeat without getting irritable of resentful. In fact if we look at all of Jesus’ healing stories in the Gospels he was stopped while he was on the way to somewhere else to do something else, and not once is there even a hint of “leave me alone can’t you see I’m busy.”

How are we when someone demands out attention attempting to disrupt our well-made plans? How are we when someone does this and they have no right to do it? Are we able to move beyond possible initial feelings of anger and resentment and see the possibility of a deeper need here? The Gospel is not anti-work-life balance. It is about how the needs of others sometimes supersede our own and we are being asked to put our legitimate needs on hold in order to give them our full attention. The more we can clear the clutter of our lives, whether it is material, psychological or emotional, the greater the possibility is we can do this with the same generous spirit Jesus showed when he was interrupted during his earthly ministry.