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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Tired and Exhausted Crowds

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

The text of the Gospel puts before us a lapidary description of the condition of the people who followed Jesus in search of hope: "weary and scattered". It could be translated "harassed and abandoned" to better understand how she was reduced to living. Deprived of happiness and peace, debased by political and religious power, plundered in many ways, they are assimilated to a flock without a shepherd. They have no reference and consequently wander aimlessly. It is a description that continues to find daily application at some latitude. What tears apart a dark-hued painting, offering that glimmer of possibility for improvement, is an inscription that stigmatizes the out-of-the-ordinary reaction of Jesus: "he had compassion for them".

Some scientific research has shown that compassion can accelerate the course of an illness, increase psychophysical well-being and reduce stress levels and depressive symptoms, as feeling this feeling is good, both psychologically and physically. I do not think these were the motivations of Jesus, even if for us they can be a further incentive to place ourselves in following him, since he is "the head and finisher of our faith". Only by letting ourselves be inspired by him and following his example can we reduce the chances of mistakes and the risk of failure. Compassion is genuine participation in the suffering of the other, and animated the action of the Master, who was humanly tireless. According to Matthew's account, he went through “all the towns and villages” of his territory, “ teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness” (9:35). Before the crowds, Jesus realizes that the need was greater than what he alone could do. Yet he does not give up, nor is he discouraged and slows down his action: "teaches, preaches and heals", and sometimes multiplies food.

These are the identifying signs of God's workers: helping to know the gospel, inspiring people to build life on the gospel, animating them to the Kingdom of God; help the sick to heal from their infirmities. This did Jesus, this is required of those who claim to be his servant. It could be said that everything else is complementary or even human addition. In the face of oppressed and abandoned humanity, without number and boundless, it is necessary to continue to pray that the bosses send workers to the field and that they are animated by compassion. Compassion literally means "to suffer with". God is not far from anyone's suffering, but he embraces those who suffer. Jesus took our suffering upon himself. Christ appears in the Gospels as a narration and personification of God's compassion, well expressed in the attitude of the Good Samaritan who, passing by the wounded man, "saw him, he hadcompassion" (Luke 10:33). Likewise the shepherd takes on the fatigue of his sheep and does not remain indifferent. Humanly unable to meet the needs of all on his own, Jesus delegates to the disciples, investing them with his authority. He asks them not to let themselves be held back by the hardness of hearts, but to realize the need of others and not to hesitate to make it their own, and in any case to never be paid. Here then is that compassion is not just a feeling that imposes itself on the heart of man, but it becomes choice, responsibility in the face of the cry of those who suffer.

While we are turned in on ourselves and worried about our problems, there are crowds totally abandoned, distressed by the difficult and painful situations of life, who need compassionate ministers who listen and provide, who are interested in true good, care and to the progress of the flock, relieving fatigue and supporting exhaustion. True power has been given to us: the power of the Gospel! A "power" that comes from God and of which no one can boast, since "you have received freely, give freely". It is necessary to follow the Lord to do the extraordinary works that he did and to exercise that power that he confides in him. Let's try. Let's make an effort.

Photo by Justine FG,


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 29 July 12, Psalms 4-6; Acts 17:16-34 July 13, Psalms 7-9; Acts 18 July 14, Psalms 10-12; Acts 19:1-20 July 15, Psalms 13-15; Acts 19:21-41 July 16, Psalms 16-17; Acts 20:1-16 July 17, Psalms 18-19; Acts 20:17-38 July 18, Psalms 20-22; Acts 21:1-17

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