Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6
Today's gospel is a good one for those who read the Bible looking for loopholes. It gives us two apparently contradictory images of Jesus as a man of firm, uncompromising, and even insensitive perso9nality who turns his back on a needy and helpless crowd of people who need his help and takes off on a break once it was time for a break. Then we have the image of Jesus as a caring, empathetic and compassionate Jesus who call off his well-deserved rest top attend to a noisy crowd of clients who are bugging him when they should not. So, Jesus a stern and inflexible man of principle and discipline who sticks to his program come what may or is he a co9nsiderate and receptive person dispo9sed to change his plan according to the needs of the moment?
The average reader of the Bible faced with Dilemma is likely to see in Jesus the character that best suits his or her own personality. Staunch disciplinarians tend to see in Jesus a staunch disciplinarian and kindhearted philanthropists tend to see in him a kindhearted philanthropist. I the Bible then a mirror in which the reader only sees the reflection of his or her own face? Is the Bible the only to provide a justification for our chosen prejudices and lifestyles?
Fact is, the Bible there in some way to affirm us and in other way to challenge us. If we read the Bible expecting the word of God to challenge our prevailing attitudes and lifestyle, then it is easy fore us to see that what shines our in-today’s gospel is nothing but the image of Jesus as the compassionate one. Even though Jesus has come here for a much-needed retreat with his disciples, even though the people have no right to invade his privacy in this manner, still his able to look at their weary faces, see their need, change his program, and respond to their need.
How would you and I respond in similar situation? We would probably chase the crowd, accusing them of insensitivity. We would send the disciples to drive them away and if necessary, bring in the law enforcement agents. We would become angry and critical of the people rather than try to understand them. But compassion is putting oneself in the other person's position and trying to see things the way the other person sees them.
So, if Jesus is so compassionate why then did he try to get away from the crowd initially? Even that action could be seen as an act of compassion not for the crowd but tor the disciples who certainly needed a rest. Today let us ask Jesus to give us his spirit of compassion so that we can be as sensitive and responsive tot he needs of people around us as he was. And let us be prepared to live lives of compassion whether it calls for a change in our plans for the summer or in our plans for the rest of our lives.