In today’s gospel, Jesus hears of the death of John the Baptist. He needs some space to grieve and reflect. He goes to a lonely place to spend some time alone with his disciples.
However, when He gets there, the crowds are waiting for him. Despite His need for space, He is moved by compassion and spends time with the people, teaching and caring for them. In the evening, the people were hungry. There were thousands of them, and he asked His disciples to feed them. The response was that this was impossible, there were so many of them! Jesus asked them to bring what they had, there was so little. However, after praying Jesus manages from the little they had to feed all those people! In fact, there is much left over. So abundant was the food that He provided!
As we are called to reach out to those in need we are reminded to do so not just when it is so convenient. There are times when we put ourselves out of our comfort zone when we are called to help others. Our Christian calling calls us to be generous, to look after others and their needs all the time.
This gospel also has echoes of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we are fed by Jesus. He is our nourishment and our healing food. We are gathered by Jesus the Good Shepherd who greets us with compassion. We are encouraged to feed each other. He gives us the nourishment, energy and grace we need to do so.
We are reminded of hope, not to be fearful of challenges that we might encounter. We are called to keep moving forward, not to stagnate, not to sit on the fence, but to keep moving forward in fulfilment of our Christian vocation.
Nothing can come between us in the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted…these are the trials through which we triumph by the power of Him who loves us. God’s love is made visible to us in Jesus Christ, our brother and Lord.