In Matthew’s gospel, there’s this story about Jesus hits me on a very practical, but subtle, level.
In chapter 14, John the Baptizer has just been executed by King Herod. It seems that Jesus and John were rather close: Jesus was actually a follower of John for a time (John baptized him!), and may have been a mentor of sorts, and even extended family (they may have been cousins).
So Jesus just finds out that this man, this influential figure, this friend has just been murdered, and he withdraws to pray (and, I’m sure, to mourn and grieve).
But Jesus is a popular figure, a rabbi and a healer, and so when the crowds hear that Jesus is in the area, they convene around him.
The gospel says that when Jesus sees them, he “has compassion on them,” and begins to heal the sick folk that were there.
That is a gear shift: to go from trying to mourn and pray in solitude, to performing acts of ministry.
It’s one of my biggest challenges: I have relational “buckets” that I live in, and if I’m required to shift—from solitude or study to serious conversation, or from a business meeting to counseling—it is a stress on me. In fact, sometimes I simply cannot make the shift.
Unfortunately, life—people—don’t dwell in discrete buckets, and life doesn’t have hard edges. Learning to move fluidly between interactions is a gift of the Spirit, and something that will take time to grow up in me.