In today’s readings we are united into the beautiful concept of WHOLENESS or oneness . The prophet Jeremiah, called at the tender age of 16 years had a very difficult task as a prophet. The Jews were scattered when in exile and Jeremiah prophesied that they would be gathered together and returned home to Israel to multiply and be fruitful. Their leaders will shepherd them and they will not be afraid anymore.
Ps. 22 uses familiar imagery of shepherding in Biblical times written from the perspective of the sheep (us) looking to God as shepherd.
In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul is quite explicit about us being reconciled into one body through Christ, through suffering. We all have access to one Spirit, so the invitation here is to accept and cradle our ego which has served us so faithfully throughout our years. Now we are encouraged here to allow the Light of God’s Spirit to shine through our inner core, making us one authentic person.
In the Gospel, Mark shows us Jesus trying to encourage the apostles to take some rest for themselves.
People will always come to where they are nourished and that is what’s happening here. The crowds preceded the boat in which Jesus and the apostles are trying to escape to a lonely place to be alone and pray. However when they arrive, Jesus notices the large crowd like sheep without a shepherd. He has compassion on them as it was getting late. Understanding brings compassion. “You may call God love or good, but compassion is the best name for God.” (Meister Eckhart)
Compassion is frequently mentioned in the Bible as a gift needed by all of us for others. In the Old Testament very few people were compassionate but in the New Testament Jesus asks us to “Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate”. (Luke 6:36) Compassion is more than a feeling. It is an opening of my eyes to see Christ among us. To be moved and shocked with what’s happening to people and what this does to them, is a way of perceiving God’s Presence. Compassion implies knowledge of the needy of the world. It encompasses tenderness and love for those in need. There are two things that help us grow in compassion:
- Exposure to the sufferings of the poor.
- A willingness to allow it to happen, (put no obstacles in the way).
Jesus immediately responds to the crowd, looking at them with contemplative, seeing eyes. Jesus treated people with gentleness and compassion as he does here in this Gospel passage. We have to accept all who come our way and condemn no one. Compassion comes to life only when we practise it.
- Have I consistently shown compassion towards those with whom I live and towards all Creation?
- Reflect on what reverberates in me deeply. Give time to allow this insight to take root in my life now.
- How am I challenged, changed, enriched by what I have read?
Sr.Dympna Travers OP