By Sean-Patrick Lovett
St Mark’s Gospel describes the Apostles returning from their first mission, an experience that “must have been exciting, but tiring too”, said Pope Francis. Which is why Jesus tells them to: “Come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while”. Unfortunately, the crowd gets there before the disciples and Jesus arrive.
Being available to the needs of others
The same thing can happen today, said the Pope. “Sometimes we fail to realize our projects, because an unexpected emergency occurs that messes up our programs and requires us to be flexible and available to the needs of others.” That is when we are called to imitate what Jesus did: "As He stepped ashore He saw a large crowd and had pity on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He set Himself to teach them at some length” (Mk 6:34).
Seeing, having pity, teaching
Pope Francis isolated the three verbs used by St Mark to describe this scene, one the Pope compared to “photographing the eyes of the Divine Master”. The verbs are: “to see, to have pity, to teach. We can call them the verbs of the Shepherd”, he added. “Jesus’ gaze is not a neutral or, worse, cold and detached look, because Jesus always looks with the eyes of the heart”, continued Pope Francis. “His heart is so tender and full of compassion, that He knows how to grasp even the most hidden needs of people”.
The model of love and service
Instead of performing a miracle, as we would expect, said the Pope, Jesus begins to teach the people. “Here is the first bread that the Messiah offers to the hungry and lost crowd: the bread of the Word”, he said. “We all need the Word of truth, to guide us and enlighten our path. Without the truth, which is Christ Himself, it is impossible to find the right orientation in life. When one moves away from Jesus and His love, one loses oneself and existence turns into disappointment and dissatisfaction”.
“Jesus has made Himself a gift for others”, concluded Pope Francis, “thus becoming a model of love and service for each one of us".