Pastoral Message – July 18, 2021
Have you ever questioned whether God loves and cares for you? Have you wondered whether it is really true that God is concerned with every detail of your life? When trials mount, and discouragement hits, and a full schedule overwhelms, it can be hard to believe in God’s faithfulness. Whenever you don’t feel loved or cared for it can be hard to believe in the unwearied love of God. Every time we feel unrested, abandoned, lonely, rejected or ungrateful, it would be good moments to open up the Bible, or go to the Church, or simply find a quiet sacred place – to help remember God loves and cares for all of us and each of us.
In the Gospel today, Jesus shows his love and care towards his disciples and the crowd. First, after the disciples had been sent out for a short-term mission trip to preach the word, heal the sick, and cast out demons, they returned to Jesus and reported to him all they did and taught.
Jesus said to these disciples: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” This command (come away …. rest) is an expression of the concern, gentleness, and wisdom of Jesus. This reveals that Jesus cares about their well-being. Jesus invites them to take a step back from the crowd for a while. Jesus tells them to retreat to a quiet place, and rest from their labors.
Then, as Jesus went ashore, he saw a great and vast crowd, “his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd”. Pity means compassion. His very gut was wrenched by seeing the misery of the crowd. Pity looks to the need. Mercy looks to the person. Sometime, good and generous people can write a big check to orphanages or charitable organizations and this is praiseworthy and holy. As necessary as it is that many people write checks and give offerings, it is likewise very important that contact be facilitated. We are called to show Christ to the poor and destitute with our own eyes, our own hands and our own faces- the face of Christ. As much as possible, it is good for there to be contact between the giver and the receiver.
Jesus today is moved with mercy and compassion for the crowd. He loves and cares for them. He pours himself out for them. Interestingly, the first thing he did was to teach them and tell them about the Father’s love, who is a God, who cares about them, feeds them the Word of God, and teaches them about many things and shows them concrete physical love.
As the world keeps turning and things keep spinning, let our eyes be fixed on the Lord. When discouragement, confusion, challenges, abandonment or rejection surround us, we should go seeking for a sacred quiet place to spend a bit of time with the Lord. As we spend time with him, he can empower us, nourish us, and guide us through the different times. Take a deep breath and ask: how does God take care of me? Don’t forget his words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). As disciples of Christ, we have been bathed in God’s mercy, love and power. As missionary disciples of Christ, we can pass these blessings of mercy, love and power to our family and friends around us. God shepherds the people around us with the authentic love of Christ that comes through our eyes, our hands, and our heart of Christ.