José Antonio Pagola
The disciples, sent by Jesus to announce his Gospel, return full of enthusiasm. They have no time to tell their Master all they have done and taught. It seems Jesus wants to listen to them patiently and he invites them to come by themselves “alone with him to a quiet place and to rest a while.”
The people spoil their whole plan. People from all the villages flock to seek them out. It is no longer possible to have the quiet gathering Jesus had planned to be alone with his closest disciples. By the time they reach their destination, the crowd has invaded the whole place. How will Jesus react?
The evangelist describes in detail his attitude. Jesus is never put off by people. He fixes his gaze on the multitude. He knows how to regard not only particular people he is close to, but also this mass of people formed by faceless men and women without a voice and of no special importance. Immediately there arises a feeling of compassion in him. He cannot avoid it.“He had pity on them.” He holds them all deep within his heart.
He will never abandon them. He sees them as sheep without a shepherd: people without guides to seek out the way, without prophets to listen to the voice of God. So, he sets about teaching them calmly, devoting time and attention to nourish them with his healing Word.
One day we shall have to review before Jesus, our only Lord, how we view and treat those crowds that are leaving us slowly abandoning the Church, perhaps because they do not hear his Gospel among us, and because our discourses, statements and speeches make no sense to them.
There are simple, good people who we are disappointing because they do not see in us the compassion of Jesus. There are believers who do not know who to resort to or what to do to find a more human God than the one they come across among us. Christians who keep quiet because they know that what they say will not be heeded by any important person in the Church.
We cannot remain indifferent faced with so many people who, within our communities, keep seeking more solid nourishment than what they receive. We must not accept as normal the religious disorientation within the Church. We have to react in a clear and responsible manner. Many Christians seek to be better nourished. They need pastors who will transmit to them the teaching of Jesus.
One day the face of this Church will change. It will learn to act with more compassion: it will forget its own talk and it will put itself to listen to the suffering of the people. Jesus has the power to transform our hearts and to renew our communities.