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Interruptions

Is there anyone among us who has not faced interruptions … even within the past few hours? I suspect most will answer ‘No” or something like “I wish I could say that I haven’t experienced any interruptions.” We often look for some “do not disturb sign,”

Sometimes interruptions are minor. Sometimes they are annoying. And sometimes they are welcome. Whatever… interruptions are a fact of life!

Maybe that is why I stopped in my tracks as a I was listening to an excellent wide-ranging podcast interview of my confrere Fr. Dennis Holtschneider.  (I always look forward to what he has to say.)

I say “stopped in my tracks” quite deliberately. What interrupted my listening was the need to replay the short section about the many “interruption stories” in the Gospels. I had never thought about the many times Jesus “interrupted” what he was doing so that he could respond to a compelling human need.

Interruption stories in the Gospels

Jesus was constantly bombarded with people’s needs, illnesses, requests and other interruptions. 

He was interrupted by

  • A synagogue leader who fell at his feet.. “My little daughter is dying.
  • Ten lepers ask to be healed
  • Blind Bartimaeus ask for sight
  • And so many more

Jesus had a way of living that was open to what the Father would bring to him.  Jesus seems to view interruptions as invitations to display the love and power of God to the world. Jesus converts interruptions into moments of grace.

Jesus also tells “stories” about interruptions.

The story of the Good Samaritan is perhaps the greatest story of someone responding to a need when interrupted.

The Samaritan was going somewhere. He was busy, at least as busy as the priest and the Levite. But he had enough compassion to stop what he was doing, change his plans and help the troubled man.

The Samaritan didn’t put limits on when he will respond to need. He even went further in committing to interrupt his life on the return journey.

“Interruptions are where real ministry begins.”

I googled “interruptions.” One of the first things that popped up was this quote from Henry Nouwen. “You know . . . my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered that my interruptions were my work.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and cancelling our plans…”

St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise understood

  • “you should go on a Sunday to nurse a sick person instead of going to Mass, even though that is a matter of obligation, you should do it. That is called leaving God for God (CCD:X:76)
  • … holy obedience reconciles everything and requires that you leave prayer to go to serve the poor, as you have so often been taught. That is leaving God for God (CCD:X:435)
  • … God calls you to make your prayer, and at the same time He calls you to that poor, sick person. That is called leaving God for God (CCD:X:478).

Vincent and Louise were convinced that the poor were the privileged place for an encounter with the living God

Be on the lookout for interruptions. You can’t predict how God is going to act, but you can be certain that God will. It will often be in the interruptions, the nuisances, the disruption of our best-laid plans. When we open our eyes, we will experience the Kingdom of God at work in us, through us and around us.

Questions

  • Have I ever thought of interruptions as God calling?
  • What might God be asking of me when I am interrupted?

Click below for an audio version of this VIncentian Mindwalk