Saint Blaise, Bishop and Martyr (Optional Memorial)
His heart was moved. . . . and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
Jesus 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 at the same time, Jesus was discouraged as well. He had just received news that John the Baptist, his friend and kinsman, had been beheaded by King Herod.
With this good and bad news on his mind, Jesus took a practical approach and invited the apostles to get away for a time of rest (Mark 6:31). He probably needed it as well. But a crowd of people followed, and Jesus changed his plans. Rather than settling in for some rest and rejuvenation, he threw himself into teaching the people. In a sense, you could say that the “practical” Jesus was replaced by the “compassionate” Jesus. He was able to look beyond his needs and the needs of his disciples to see the needs of so many other people—people who were in far greater need than he was.
It wasn’t just Jesus whose eyes were open in this way. The apostles gave up their plans for rest as well. Still, you can imagine how surprised they must have been when, after what could have been hours of teaching, Jesus told them to give the people something to eat (Mark 6:37).
Jesus wants us to be practical. He wants us to be ordered. He wants us to take care of ourselves and get the rest we need. But there are also times when he wants us to put our plans aside for the greater good.
We can learn how to sense these movements from God so that the practical doesn’t overshadow the compassionate and spontaneous. You may sense a prompting to speak to someone after Mass or in the grocery store. You may feel that God just wants you to hug 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 where it will lead you.
“Jesus, help me sense your Spirit’s promptings. I don’t want to be so regulated that I can’t hear your voice or follow your leadings. Lord, make me flexible and open!”
1 Kings 3:4-13
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"It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." Mark 4: 31-32