XVI SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
jeremiah 23:1-6; ephesians 2:13-18; mark 6:30-34
eleanor craig’s book «p.s. your not listening» is the story of five kids… each with a terrible story. when craig began a special education class for them, she had no idea what she’d let herself into. the love she had given scores of pupils was held suspect by children who had never known love. they threw chairs at each other and at her; they assaulted each other; they withdrew into their shells. she tried to reach them with patience, empathy and gentle humour. nothing seemed to work… and she just continued to love them and care for them.
did craig make a difference in their lives? these are the notes the kids wrote to her when she was ill:
- get well soon please. did you have to get sick? love. douglas
- i hope you feel god. i hope you can come bok to school soon. eddie.
- i love you. and i like you too. and i hope you get well. love, kevin.
we have read/heard about and experienced similar stories of compassion. the greatest story of compassion is the story of GOD’s love for his people, of his constant and caring presence with them through judges and kings.
unfortunately, as the first reading describes, some of these shepherds showed no concern for the needs of their people. GOD’s response is swift: he himself will be their shepherd, and raise up new shepherds for them.
the model of the new shepherds is JESUS. in today’s gospel, he manifests his compassion twice.
he has compassion on his disciples, who return weary after their missionary travels, but are interrupted by the «many who were coming and going» so that «they had no time to eat». JESUS takes them to a lonely place.
but there is no «lonely place»! the people see where the boat was headed and get there first! these are the «poor of the land»… considered ignorant, labelled sinners and treated as outcasts by the pharisees and scribes. but JESUS has compassion on them. by not turning the boat around, by not sending the crowds away, JESUS gave his disciples a profound teaching, an illustration of the tender love of GOD for his people.
the word of GOD invites us to have this caring and compassionate love of GOD, especially for the «poor of the land.»
whom am i called to love with care and compassion? how am i going to be caring and compassionate in the week ahead?