If you’ve had a lot of company coming and going over the Christmas season, as wonderful as that is, isn’t it sometimes a welcome relief to enjoy a little peaceful time to get recharged?
Something similar happened to the disciples in the Gospel today. They had been out and about doing good works and had returned to Jesus to report all that had happened, but people kept coming and going and the apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they decided to go off with Jesus in a boat to a deserted place, finally getting a chance to get away by themselves with Jesus. However, when the boat landed, surprise! There are 5,000 men, not counting women and children, waiting on the shore…and it was a hungry crowd at that! Needless to say, their reaction was far from delight, so they decide to come to Jesus with a suggestion.
“Why don’t you dismiss them, Jesus, so they can go to the villages around here and buy themselves something to eat?”
Sounds logical, but far from compassionate. What they were really saying was: “Dismiss them and let someone else worry about them.” But Jesus said: “You give them something to eat.” He saw that the people were tired and hungry and wanted his followers to do something about it.
It is never recorded that Jesus ever turned anyone away. In fact, there was usually an unending stream of people coming to him:
- blind beggars and bent women,
- lepers and lawyers,
- demon-possessed and mentally impaired,
- the curious and the hostile,
- sinners and self-righteous,
- the diseased and the disturbed.
As the Apostles soon learned, no matter how tired Jesus might have been, no matter who came to him, no matter how unreasonable their demands, Jesus always responded with compassion. It says in today’s readings that when he looked at those 5,000 plus who came to him, “his heart was moved with pity.”
Fr. Walsh reminded us this weekend that, as we begin a new year, it’s a good time to take inventory of our spiritual health and reflect on our “Call to Holiness”. So it’s a good time to ask:
- How do I react when I’m faced with an overwhelming situation, or even just inconvenienced by someone? Angry? Frustrated? Mixed feelings?
- What’s my favorite way of avoiding responsibility?
- Claim the problem is too big?
- Blame everyone else?
- Wait for someone else to do it?
- Get busy with something else?
The bottom line is, Jesus commissioned his followers to perform the same works he performed, and, as we heard in the first beautiful reading, to do so with love, as he did.
“Beloved, let us love one another because love is of God.”