“And his disciples came and took (John The Baptist’s) body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.” (Mt. 14:12-14)
There’s a lot “not said” in these few verses. I’m often struck by the fact that Jesus had just heard of the murder of his friend and cousin and prophet, John the Baptist; he then withdrew in a boat to a lonely place…. I expect to grieve this great loss. If Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus, I would guess he wept over the murder of John the Baptist. They had such a history, going back to his Blessed Mother visiting Martha when both were pregnant….. John stirring in his mother’s womb when Jesus arrives. We recall that Jesus was baptized by John. There was back and forth between their disciples, and probably other face to face meetings. This had to be a very emotional moment for Jesus. He was human and just heard of the horrifying murder of his close friend. He withdrew to a lonely place.
Yet, he’s interrupted in the midst of his sorrow and mourning; he doesn’t have time to grieve. The crowd had followed him and when he sees them, he puts aside his grieving, and is moved with pity. His focus quickly moves to caring for the crowd and then feeding them (5,000) with 5 loaves and two fish.
What a message for us. At times we may feel the need to pray or mourn or study or get some time alone and we get interrupted. How do I respond? Sometimes I respond with irritability… a bit bummed out that “MY” time is being stolen away. Well, the Lord was constantly interrupted and he responded with pity and compassion and ministered to the crowd. What a lesson for us.
Jesus was human, with human emotions and needs…he got tired, he mourned, got distracted and yet he constantly loved. If I had been the Lord’s manager, I could have given some insightful responses in some of these situations… “Lord, do you want me to speak to the crowd… I’ll let them know that you’ve had a very tough day and need a little break….come back in a couple of days and we’ll go from there.” Hmmmmm…..thank God that Jesus didn’t have a manager.
Love is always what’s needed. It’s never convenient to love. It always costs something in order to love. Jesus always gave the prefect examples of loving.
Lord, give us the grace to receive your love and then to love others in return…. even when inconvenient.