Scripture Reading—Mark 6:35-44
The feeding of the 5000 is a well-known story, one told by all the gospel writers in various versions. John’s version (chapter 6) was the gospel reading for this past Sunday. What motivated this great miracle? For John, one of the main aspects of this miracle was, like the other miracles in his gospel, to provide a sign for people that God was present among them in a powerful and wonderful way. The verse that precedes this assigned reading for today in Mark’s gospel puts the emphasis elsewhere: “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” (vs. 34) The teaching Jesus offered the crowd and the subsequent meal he served them flowed from his deep sense of compassion for the people who sought him out. We do not often get comments from the gospel writers about the internal state of Jesus’ psyche. But here Mark is clear—Jesus had compassion for people who searched for answers to life’s big questions and for solutions to life’s big problems. And our faith is that in Jesus, we have seen the very heart of God unveiled. How do you view God and God’s attitude toward you? When life is hard, it is easy to wonder if God loves us. When we examine our own mixed motives, self-centered actions, and personal failures and sins, we may conclude that we are unworthy of God’s love and mercy. But Mark saw something deeper about Jesus. He was more than a wonder-worker. He came to show us that God is not repelled by our imperfection, failure, or stubbornness. “He had compassion…”
Thought for the day: Whatever else we may believe about God, Jesus shows us that God looks upon us in our time of need with compassion.
Prayer: O God, I sometimes wonder how you see me. When I am keenly aware of my need for clarity to overcome confusion, for mercy to mitigate judgment, help me to remember you are always compassionate. Amen.