The Gospel Today
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.
Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
The Gospel narrative for today tells us that after our Lord Jesus Christ healed the many people who have different illnesses, He felt pity for them for they are following Him for three days and have nothing to eat. Jesus knew that the healing of the physical illness and sickness of the people is not enough as His followers must be fed in order to restore their good health and condition. He performed miracle again for the people by multiplying the loaves of bread and the fish and gave it to the people so they can eat. The food was more than enough for all of them and the disciples were able to collect seven baskets of excess after the people ate.
As I reflect on this Gospel passage I cannot help but see the image of the Sacraments that Christ instituted for us . We are healed by God’s grace effected by the Sacraments that we receive through the ministry of the Church. The sacrament of baptism did not only cleanse us of our original sin, which opened the door for suffering, sickness, and death in human existence but it also opened the door of faith which allowed us to enter and become a member of God’s family. Other sacraments like the sacrament of penance and the anointing of the sick continues to point to and effect the healing ministry of Christ for the benefit of the people of God thru His Church. But Jesus, again, knew that our healing needs also to be sustained that is why He gave us the sacrament of the Eucharist , to nourish and strengthen us, whom He healed and wished to follow Him.
In this Gospel, I also notice of the word “pity”. There are three words that I can associate with the word “pity” and they are mercy, compassion and sympathy. I believe that these feelings that our Lord Jesus felt for those who followed Him are also the same feelings that He feels for us now. He also feels pity for us because of our sinfulness brought by our stubbornness. We often, in our own way, do not fully realize the consequences of our actions. Misery and despair awaits us as we seek to live apart from God. But, thankfully, we have a God who is merciful. He forgives us untiringly. He patiently awaits our return to His fold and repentance of our sins and transgressions against Him and our brothers and sisters. Whenever we are ready to admit and repent our sins, He is always ready to accept and embrace us. He is such a compassionate God who does not want us to be far from Him. He always draws us to Himself even when we often move away from Him. He showers us His blessings whether we are good or bad. It is His hope and desire that one day we will be converted to His ways. Jesus sympathize with us in our struggles in life. In every hardships, sickness and troubles, Christ is with us. He never abandons us in the face of these hardships.
In my life I had many experiences of hardships and problems that I was stuck in such predicament and without solution in sight. Those experiences are so bad that I cannot even feel the presence of God. My prayers seemed to be unanswered and I cannot feel any consolation . And because of that, I feel nothing but despair and loneliness. Inside the darkness of my struggles, I noticed the sudden coming of light which enlightened my confused mind. Answers to my problems suddenly popped up and a new hope started to sprout again within me. In this situation, I believed that God felt pity for me. With His boundless mercy and compassion for me, He did not allow me to be enveloped in the darkness of my struggles. Rather, by the power of His providence, He guided me to the right path where I can find the answers to my problems. Reflecting on Jesus’ pity in the Gospel passage made me realize once more how Jesus loves us, as shown by His compassion to His people. I am sure that Jesus continues to perform miracles in our life even we don’t ask for them. It is all because of His great love for us.