JEREMIAH 23:1-6 EPHESIANS 2:13-18 MARK 6:30-34
In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus had given the apostles authority over unclean spirits and commissioned them to preach. “So, they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” In today’s gospel passage, the apostles had just returned from what proved to have be a very successful missionary excursion. They were tremendously excited but had trouble sharing their experiences because “people were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.”
Like a mother hen caring for her chicks, Jesus hustled them on to a boat to retreat to a favorite hideaway of theirs for some peace and quiet. It was a shock to them that the people guessed where they were going and were waiting for them on the shore along with many others they had picked up as they walked there. The only peace and quiet that the disciples managed to get was during the boat trip across the lake.
When Jesus saw “the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them; for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” The lessons gleaned from this first missionary experience weren’t over yet. In fact, they had just begun.
There wasn’t any time for rest. The people weren’t at peace. Their spirits weren’t at rest. Immediately, Jesus reached out and touched their hearts with his teaching.
Did the apostles realize that, in his response to the crowd, Jesus was teaching them, too? Did they realize that the “Jesus ministry” would demand that they pour themselves out “like a libation?” Did they realize that mere words would never be able to satisfy the deep hunger of the people? Did they realize that they would have to place their entire lives in the hands of God before they could respond to the needs of this crowd? Not yet. First, they would have to look helplessly at the crowd of five thousand as Jesus’ command echoed in their ears. “Give them some food yourselves.”
Jesus, I offer my life to you.
I give you my all, my strengths and my weaknesses.
Use me to continue your ministry
to satisfy the hungers of the human family.