Compassion

First Reading: 1 Kg 12:26-32, 13:33-34
Psalm: Ps 106:6-7ab, 19-20, 21-22
Gospel: Mk 8:1-10

Jesus’ compassion is very evident in today’s Gospel. He and his
disciples were in the area known as the Ten Cities. This was the
area in which Jesus in the Gospel about two weeks ago cured the
demoniac, who lived among the tombs. The Ten Cities was a pagan
area. There were scarcely any Jews living there. So very likely
most of the people who were the beneficiaries of today’s miracle
were Gentiles. Yet Jesus’ reaction to this weary and hungry crowd
of Gentiles was the same as his reaction to a hungry and weary crowd
of 5,000 Jews whom he had fed earlier. Jesus was concerned that if
he did not feed the people, they would faint on the way home.

His compassion, obviously, reached out to everyone. He didn’t limit
it simply to his own people. As was true when he fed the five
thousand, his compassion soon became a challenge for him. Jesus
indicated he would like to provide food for the crowd. Immediately
the disciples raise logistical difficulties: “How can anyone give
these people sufficient bread in this deserted spot?” Then Jesus
challenged them: “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus was saying to
the disciples, “Look, let’s see what we can do, let’s not waste our
time hiding behind difficulties.” Jesus’ compassion did not stop
with sympathetic and empathic thoughts about those in need of help.
Compassion challenged him to see what he could do.

If we in this country are willing to spend a little time getting to
really know the problems of the poor by talking with and listening
to them, would we react as did Jesus? Genuine compassion is
authenticated by an eager response to a challenge.

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