Like sheep without a shepherd
The disciples who were sent by Jesus to announce his Good News return all excited. There is not enough time for them to tell their Master all that they have done and taught. It appears, Jesus wants to listen to them calmly, so he invites them to go off “by themselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
The people spoil their plan. They run from every village to find them. That quiet gathering Jesus has in mind for his closest disciples is no longer possible. By the time they get to the place, the crowd has completely invaded it. How will Jesus react?
The evangelist describes in detail his attitude. Jesus is never bothered by the people. He fixes his gaze on the crowd. He knows how to look, not just at the concrete persons in front of him, but also at that mass of people made up of voiceless and faceless men and women without special importance. Right away compassion is awakened in him. He cannot help it. “His heart was moved with pity for them.” He takes them deep into his heart.
He will never abandon them. To him, they are “like sheep without a shepherd”: people without guides to show the way, without prophets to make them hear God’s voice. That is why “he began to teach them many things” calmly, giving them time and attention in order to nourish them with his healing Word.
Someday, we will have to review, before Jesus, how we look at and treat those crowds that are slowly leaving our Church, perhaps because they do not hear among us Jesus’ Gospel and because our discourses, communications and declarations no longer say anything to them.
These are the simple and good people whom we are disappointing because they do not see in us Jesus’ compassion. They are believers who do not know whom to approach and what paths to follow to encounter a God who is more human that the one they perceive among us. These are Christians who keep quiet because they know that their word will not be taken into account by anyone of importance in the Church.
Someday the face of this Church will change. She will learn to act with more compassion; she will forget about her own discourses and she will begin to listen to the people’s suffering. Jesus has power to transform our hearts and renew our communities.
July 19, 2015
16 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 6, 30-34