CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Become ministers of compassion

The gospel today begins with the return of the apostles from their mission, and Jesus’ invitation to them to rest for a while. “Jesus and the twelve are alone” on a boat, in silence, slowly moving away on the lake.

Service to the community requires much effort and great generosity. However, there is a need for caution, because it can easily turn into frenzied activity, often assessed according to the criterion of enterprise productivity

The apostles gather around the master and evaluate with him, what they did and taught. They show what should be the benchmark of all apostolic activity.

Before implementing projects there is a need of a sincere meeting with the master, to receive from him the instructions on the task at hand and to feel being sent by him. 

The choices, initiatives that do not come from prayer, meditation and community reflection of God’s word, are likely to be dictated by human standards.

Behind the screen of the charitable and beneficent work, sometimes, less noble goals, ambitions, personal interests, desire to compete, to impose, to proselytize are hidden.

 The rest of Jesus and of the apostles did not last long, only the time of crossing of the lake. They are back in the midst of the crowd that flocked from all over, waiting for them on the shore.

Their withdrawing apart was not an escape, but a spiritual recharge. When they are bearers of a divine word that instills hope and communicates salvation, the disciples are always eagerly awaited and welcomed with joy.

 The evangelist completes the scene with an image of an unmatched beauty and a sweetness, “He had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” 

The image recalls the various texts of the Old Testament. The first reference is to the prayer of Moses who prayed to appoint a leader, that the community of the Lord may not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:16-17). 

The image also alludes to the accusations of the prophets against the leaders who led the nation to ruin: “They have scattered for want of a shepherd and became prey of wild animals” (Ezekiel 34:5) and the famous Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

Jesus is the true shepherd because he reveals a heart sensitive to the needs of the people, a heart that immediately perceives what kind of food they are hungry and what kind of water they are thirsty. 

 

 λ Father Jijo Kandamkulathy cmf