Jesus attracted crowds like no other. His manner, his words, and his actions brought hope to a hopeless people. They didn’t want him to leave – he was a beacon of light in a dark place. But Jesus knew that his message was for all people. He needed to continue to travel and spread the good news of a loving God – the news that God’s kingdom was being formed here on earth right before their eyes.
Recently I took a week-long trip to South Dakota, where I met my sister and her family who live in San Francisco. Our time together is rare and I clung to every moment I had with her. When the time came for us to leave, I found myself, well, crabby. I was bothered by the dirty dishes I had to clean. I was bothered by the packing that had to be done. I was bothered by family members for doing nothing. But I’m pretty self-aware, and I knew that none of those were really what was eating me. At the heart of the matter, I was just grieved that our time together was coming to an end.
Separating from those that we love is never easy. But I also realized that the only way to experience the full joy of being together comes with the sting of separation. Sure, I could fog over the pain, but then I also fog over the joy. They go together, joy and pain. In the end I decided I would rather experience the fullness of joy, even if it meant also feeling the pain of sorrow. Difficult, but worth it.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.