by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
July 18, 2012
Mark describes the situation in full detail. Jesus is going in a boat with His disciples to a quiet and withdrawn place. He wants to hear them quietly, since they have come back tired from their first evangelizing foray and want to share their experience with the Prophet who sent them.
Jesus' plan is frustrated. The people find out His intention and get there ahead of them, running along the shore. When they get to the place, they meet a crowd of people who have come from all the surrounding villages. How will Jesus react?
Mark graphically describes His actions. The disciples have to learn how to treat people; in the Christian communities they have to remember how Jesus was with those people lost in anonimity, who nobody cares about. "On disembarking, Jesus saw the crowd, He was moved because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them calmly."
The first thing the gospel writer emphasizes is Jesus' gaze. He doesn't get irritated because His plans have been interrupted. He looks at them closely and is moved. People never disturb Him. His heart senses the disorientation and neglect in which the peasants of those villages find themselves.
In the Church, we have to learn to look at people as Jesus looked at them -- understanding the suffering, loneliness, confusion and neglect that many of them are experiencing. Compassion doesn't spring from attention to rules or remembering our obligations. It is awakened in us when we look attentively at those who are suffering.
From that look, Jesus discovers the deepest need of those people -- "they were like sheep without a shepherd." The teaching they receive from the masters and scholars of the law doesn't give them the food they need. They are living without anyone who really cares for them. They don't have a pastor who guides and defends them.
Moved by His compassion, Jesus "begins to teach them calmly." Unhurriedly, He devotes Himself patiently to teaching them God's Good News and His humanizing project for the kingdom. He doesn't do it out of obligation. He doesn't think of Himself. He communicates the Word of God to them, moved by their need for a pastor.
We can't remain indifferent before so many people who, within our Christian communities, are looking for more solid food than what they are receiving. We should not accept religious disorientation within the Church as normal. We should react lucidly and responsibly. Many Christians are seeking to be better fed. They need pastors who will transmit Jesus' teaching to them.