Sometimes I feel so sorry for Jesus. In today’s gospel (MT 14:13-21) there are three distinct moments when Jesus could have used a kind word but no one noticed. The first line is the saddest:
1. “When Jesus learned of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” Of course he did!! This was his relative and dear friend who had baptized him and recognized who he was immediately. With him gone, Jesus would certainly have been bereft.
2. Even then, the crowds followed him. (I’m hoping they just weren’t informed about John because had they known they would have given him some space to grieve.) They were waiting from him when his boat pulled in to the shore and in his great sense of compassion, he tended to their needs – putting his own feelings aside. He cured them.
3. I’m wondering why the disciples couldn’t see his sadness. They seemed to just be concerned to have him disperse the crowds so they, themselves, wouldn’t have to figure out what to do next. I love the challenge he offered them when he said, “There’s no need for them to go away. Give them some food yourselves.” Of course they had no idea how to do that, but once again compassion reigned and Jesus taught a great lesson.
All of this in the midst of his grief! What lessons might we learn from this reading? Once again, I would say “Awareness, awareness, awareness!” Look beyond what is in front of you to what is inside the person before you. See always with an eye of compassion in the generous manner of Jesus.