The day-to-day life of Jesus was probably filled with interruptions. From what we see throughout the Gospel, people constantly interrupted Jesus to ask for things. They asked for things like healing, answers to their questions, signs of his power and favors. From his own mother at a wedding interrupting Jesus to let him know that the wine had run out, to the penitent thief on the cross next to Jesus interrupting Jesus’ dying moments by asking to be remembered, Jesus life was marked by one interruption after another.
One of the many things I admire about Jesus is how he handles these interruptions. Jesus has an incredible ability to tactfully transform interruptions into something good. Something good not just for himself, but for everyone. Jesus does this by fully accepting interruptions and not ignoring them. Our Gospel tonight is a perfect example.
The action starts with Jesus teaching at a synagogue. We are told by the Gospel writer that the people who were listening to Jesus teach were astounded by his words. I think we all know that feeling of being in the middle of really good lesson and you are just hanging on to every word the teacher is saying. Then we are told that suddenly Jesus is interrupted by a man with an unclean spirit who starts crying out at Jesus.
Now as a former teacher, I can tell you from personal experience how aggravating it is to have a good class interrupted. All it takes is one person to interrupt and it can feel like the whole flow is ruined. Somehow Jesus is able to avoid this.
So how does Jesus do it? How does he handle these interruptions so well?
Start by considering what Jesus does not do, Jesus does not ignore interruptions. When the man with the unclean spirit interrupts Jesus’ teaching, Jesus deals with it. He handles it directly, right away.
All too often we choose to ignore the interruptions of our lives. It’s perfectly understandable, we are all busy, we are all stressed, we are all trying to figure things out. One interruption after another can pile up and we can just feel the need to run away. At the same time, we know beneath every interruption there’s a conversation we should be having, there’s a situation we should be dealing with, there are prayers we should be praying, and there’s an opportunity to get closer to God.
Jesus didn’t ignore interruptions, he fully accepted them. Jesus fully accepted interruptions because he knew when they were important. Jesus knew that interruptions weren’t distractions from life, they were life itself. There is no getting away from them.
Like Jesus, we know our lives are going to be filled with interruptions. We know from the second we wake up in the morning to the moment we fall asleep, things will never be going exactly according to plan.
We may spend our days thinking if only this person or this situation hadn’t interrupted my life, everything would be peaceful. We may spend our days thinking that way, and then end up spending our lives thinking that way. The way of Jesus recognizes these interruptions to our lives as means of grace, as means of transformation, and as means of prayer.
The acceptance of interruptions in our lives is essential in our path to God. As Mary said to the angel Gabriel when she was told her life was about to be interrupted by a son, be it unto me according to your word. Amen.
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