July 18, 2021 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071821.cfm)
A lady once went to visit a friend who is a public high school teacher. As they chatted at the school canteen, however, they were continually interrupted by students who came for his friend’s advice or opinion on something. Eventually she asked her friend, “How do you manage to get any work done with these interruptions?” Her friend replied, “At first, I resented interruptions in my work. But one day, it suddenly dawned on me that interruptions are part of my teaching work. Educating students is not so much what I teach them inside the classroom, but moreso about how much time and attention I spent them outside the classroom.”
That teacher could have devoted her time on her lesson plans. She could have attended much of her time to her private life and not be involved with her student’s lives. But being caring and generous that she is, she made her work consists of being available to her students’ needs. No wonder she was greatly loved and respected by the students.
We do experience interruptions in our life. Especially people who are in caring profession like teachers, priests, social workers, government and bank employees, frontliners, doctors and nurses experience lots of disturbances at work. And usually these interruptions are particularly difficult especially when the request is not of our own choosing, when we don’t feel in the mood to help, when we are forced to respond and when it causes a lot of inconveniences. In such cases, a real sacrifice is involved. Most of the time, we have to forget ourselves and set aside our feelings and present plans to address the pressing needs of others than ourselves.
Good for us to know that Jesus himself, like us, also had to cope and contend with disturbances & interruptions in his ministry. Jesus too had his plans upset and postponed because of other people’s needs.
In our gospel today Jesus saw the need of his apostles for rest and recreation. After sending them on a mission to proclaim the good news, to heal the sick and to cast out demons, Jesus understood his apostles’ need to recharge their energy. They had been through a lot while on mission that they need the time to eat, enjoy, & process their experiences with Jesus & the people. With this, Jesus planned to take them off to a quiet place for a break because frontliner caregiver as they are, the apostles also needed caring.
However, as we have heard, things didn’t work out as planned. The ordinary people sabotaged their rest and recreation. And how did Jesus react? Not with annoyance but with compassion. Jesus was moved with pity for them. Inasmuch as he attended and took care of his apostles’ need for a break, out of compassion for them, Jesus also responded to the pressing needs of other people.
First, interruptions can be God’s way of taking care of us. The Lord said in our first reading: “I myself…take care, gather, bring back, appoint..” Meaning, What God does Himself to us are His hands-on interventions in our lives that will definitely disturbs us. As Paul said, Jesus is God’s intervention in our lives, who totally can disturbs, change & renew our lives. Jesus is God’s cure to save & help us to live our lives for the better.
Second, interruptions can be our way of taking care of ourselves. As interruptions happen, we are moved to give more attention & value to what is important and we really need. The disciples needed to rest, recreation & recharge, and the people needs God’s healing, care, inspiration & meaning through Jesus’ words & ministry. In crisis-disturbance, we are to adjust, adapt & cope with our bare necessities. We evaluate – we put value on what we have & longs for the better than the usual.
Third, interruptions can be our way of taking care of one another. As it caused us to be conscious of our needs, life-interruptions make us also feel the needs of others & moves our hearts to compassion to help. It challenges us to do whatever we can to contribute & fulfill our mission in life for them & for us. Life-interruptions moves us to sympathize & empathize with one another.
Simply put, whatever, whenever & however it happens to us then, now & in the future, these interruptions can be the chance for our intervening, disturbing & interrupting God to take care of us, & can be our opportunity to take care & be a better versions of ourselves & of one another. Interruptions call us to faith, self-care, compassion & personal mission.
If we really come to think of it, our present experiences of Covid pandemic is & has been indeed a great interruption to our lives. Needless to say, the disturbance, crises, & challenges, Covid pandemic has done and cost in our lives nowadays. However, somehow like a major medical operation or dialysis procedure, perhaps this pandemic is God’s intervention to save from our own sickness & destruction. The interruptions we are going through might be God’s way of saving, curing & healing us from usual our toxic & abusive-lifestyle that make us sick & has brought cancerous diseases & infectious viruses to our nature, environment, physical bodies & personal lives. As we cope with the challenges of the pandemic times, we come also to see & value more the need for us to reimagine our lives, be more clear with our priorities & steadfast with our values, purpose & principles in life. And above all, we come to realize that we need each other, we feel for one another, & we contribute what we can for a much better life ahead.
Somehow the pandemic, virus, quarantine, immunization we are going through are God’s evasive, interrupted, inconvenient procedure for our upgrade, from corrupted & infected system to a better version of our humanity & our world. With the Lord and our compassion for one another, somehow what we are going through nowadays is God’s way of care-giving & care-taking us now & always.
Lord, Interrupt & disturb us, once in a while (if not always), … that we may realize how sick we are,…. how we need You & one another,…. how we can help & take care of one another and…. how God is working & intervening to protect & save our lives & world now especially during these trying pandemic times. Amen.