Samuel Coleridge was an English poet. One day as he woke up he remembered he had dreamed the lines of a poem, even the title, Kubla Kahn. He did not have to compose the lines, they were all in his head. Someone knocked on the door who stayed for about an hour. As soon as the person left, Coleridge tried to go back to work, but the beautiful lines had been forgotten, never to be remembered, and Kubla Kahn remains to this day a fragment of unfinished poetry.
Many of us have experiences like that. We know what it is like to be interrupted, life just refuses to unfold the way we had planned. Mothers of small children may know better than most of us with wide-awake nights and sleepy mornings, and children who always seem to want attention at the most inconvenient moment.
It would seem that interruptions are part of what it means to be human. They come to all of us. Some are minor while others are far more serious; like when all your plans for the future are blown away when you are told that, after 20 years with the company, they are going out of business- interruption! Or after years of married life, your spouse says I want a divorce, and you have to rethink the rest of your life – interruption!
No one is exempt from this: it seems to come to all of us at some time or another. Jesus had to deal with interruption, it happened over and over again.
Jesus invited His disciples to an isolated place for some R and R, but an unexpected crowd spoiled the plan. What was supposed to be a day of rest and recuperation turned into a day of hard work, and that twist of fate gave us a demonstration of how Jesus dealt with interruption.
Unlike many of us, He did not resent and resist it. Mark tells us that when He saw the crowd, His first reaction was pity. These people were imposing on His time, it was supposed to be time off, He deserved a rest and He tried to take one, but the throng beat Him and His disciples to the retreat site. An insensitive crowd took over His day so Jesus surveyed the situation, accepted the way it was, and went to work.
The crowd reminded Him of sheep without a shepherd, they did not know where to go or what to do. His pity quickly turned to action. Mark tells us He began to teach them at great length. We do not know the content of that day’s lesson, but seeing the situation and given what we know of Jesus, I think we can make an educated guess. My guess is that He taught these people who they were and how important they were to God. That no matter what they had done or how they had lived, God cared for them and wanted to be their shepherd.
Jesus was people-conscious, but He did make enemies. Enemies of the powerful because he put compassion above tradition, love above law, and people above things and institutions.
How do we deal with interruptions, especially from people we hardly know or do not even like? People who may need only a smile or a touch? Everywhere we go we see people like sheep without a shepherd: some will be lost in hatred, some in cynicism, some in fear.
In spite of our own shortcomings, our own weakness, will we allow ourselves to be used? Will we interrupt our busy lives long enough to let them know that no matter what, God cares just by showing them that we care? Can we be extensions of Christ? When dealing with others, can your motto be the words of consecration of the mass: this is My body, given for you.