Matthew begins this Gospel reading with “After the death of John the Baptizer..
This portrays to us the grief of our Lord over the death of his cousin. The Lord was mourning the death of a beloved friend. He was extremely saddened because he knew that John the Baptizer was killed because of him.
Most of us, at least once in our life, have felt grief. It could be that moment in our life when we become so vulnerable, so hurt that we become inconsolable. We refuse the comforting touch of others; we refuse even to look at people who have hurt us, because this will bring on so much pain in our hearts.
The Lord experienced that Himself. He grieved over the death of a beloved – a cousin and friend. At that moment of sadness, all He wanted was to be by Himself. He went up to the other side of town, to a mountain where He could be alone. He longed to nurse His hurt and sorrow in solitude.
But after He had crossed to the side where the mountain lay, He was again confronted by a multitude who presented their need to be cured and attended to. If the Lord were only human like us, He would have barked at these people: “Can’t you understand? I just want to be left by myself with my grief.” But no such words ensued from our Lord’s lips; instead, He performed one of the greatest miracles in the New Testament – the multiplication of loaves of bread.
This points to us the fact that our grief and our hurt are not enough reasons to excuse us from serving other people. I don’t mean that we steel ourselves from grief or deprive ourselves of a period of mourning by non-stop service to others. There is a time for grieving and mourning and the Lord understands we need this time. The Lord makes us see, through His actions in the Gospel, that our grief should not make us so self-absorbed that we fail to see the grief and needs of others.
We will continue to encounter this situation in our lives and when we do, we must remember how the Lord grappled with His own grief and sense of loss over the death of John the Baptizer.
Let us remember how, despite His grief, the Lord continued to love and serve others.
Let us ask the Lord to fill us with greater generosity so we can serve even if we are hurting and overcome with heartache. Let us ask Him to enable us to look beyond ourselves, beyond our personal sorrows and aches and allow us to reach out to others.
Only Jesus, Always Jesus