His heart was moved. (Mark 6:34)
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus both encouraged and discouraged. He was encouraged because the apostles had just returned from a very successful missionary trip. They had healed some people, delivered others from demons, and brought many to conversion. But he was also discouraged because John, his friend and kinsman, had just been beheaded.
With this good and bad news on his mind, Jesus took a practical approach and invited the apostles to a quiet place for a time of rest (Mark 6:31). At least he tried to. A crowd of people followed them. So Jesus changed his plans and began to teach them.
In a sense, you could say that the “compassionate” Jesus overruled the “practical” Jesus. He saw beyond his needs and the needs of his disciples and focused instead on the needs of the people coming to them. You could say that his eyes were opened to a much wider picture. The apostles’ eyes were opened as well. They gave up their plans for rest so that they could minister to the people.
Of course, Jesus wants us to be practical. He wants us to have our lives in order and to set goals and achieve them. But he also wants us to be flexible enough to be able to put aside our plans when the need arises and when the Spirit prompts us to.
The key is learning how to sense the Spirit’s promptings so that what is practical and planned doesn’t overshadow what is compassionate and spontaneous. You may sense a prompting to speak to someone after Mass or in the grocery store. You may sense that God wants you to put your arms around your husband or child or that you should put aside what you are doing and read Scripture for a few minutes. Whenever something like this happens, try to act on it. You never know what miracles may result!
“Holy Spirit, help me to be open to your promptings. I don’t want to be so regulated that I can’t hear your voice. Lord, make me as flexible as you are!”~WAU