He was moved with pity for them

Originally Appeared in : Father Pablo Migone

I recently visited a family devastated by the loss of their newborn child. As I entered the hospital room the mother lay in bed with the small child wrapped in a homemade, white blanket. She looked at him tenderly, and arranged his tiny red arms with the care only a mother can show. The small child had a little cute, white triangular hat covering his head. His eyes were shut. No word could fully console nor could any expression fully heal such a significant loss for the young couple.


When Jesus disembarked with his apostles on the shore of the Sea of Galilee hoping to find some peace and quiet to pray, he found that a great crowd anxiously seeking him awaited him. Saint Mark recounts that “they had hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.” Rather than growing upset at the crowd for chasing after him, preventing him from spending some time in prayer, Jesus looked at them and his heart was moved with pity for them “for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Rather than chastising them or sending them away, he began to teach them.


This is not the only time in the Gospels where Jesus encounters a needy crowd and he is moved with pity for them. His pity is not patronizing, but rather expresses the love he has toward the people he encounters. While in despair and struggling, Jesus feels their pain and shows them his love by teaching them, being with them, and oftentimes feeding them.


Jesus is most active where he is most needed. Not just in the margins of society where countless people are excluded and ignored as Pope Francis has so often pointed out, but Jesus is also most present in the areas of our lives where we have the greatest need of him. The presence of sin in our lives is inevitable, and Jesus desires for us to let him in, so he can bring healing. So often we keep Jesus distant from the darkness of our sins, but he longs to enter into it so that he can turn the lights on and clean up. Every time we go to confession, we invite Jesus to bring healing into our wounded souls. He looks at us just as he looked at the crowd, and has pity and mercy on us.


Jesus longs to bring wholeness to where there is loss. Our sins, pains, and sufferings can only find wholeness when he looks at us with mercy. We too are like sheep without a shepherd and he yearns to shepherd us, to count us among his sheep. No human word can fully console nor can any human expression fully heal our experience of sin and suffering. It is only through inviting Jesus into our greatest need that healing can begin, and light can begin to shine even in the darkest recesses of our souls. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do,” said Jesus. “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Jesus is in our lives not because we are good, but because we struggle to be good, and he helps us in that struggle. Jesus is in our lives not because everything is great, but because things are not always great, and he helps us in the struggle. When encountering the suffering of the young couple, Jesus stretched out his hand and opened his heart to console them. In the end, wholeness and healing in the soul will always be the work of Jesus who looks at each one of us in our need and has mercy on us.


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