When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt. 9:36)
“He had compassion for them.” How amazingly accurately Saint Matthew described the feeling that God has for us humans. You know, if anybody asks me such a childish question: “What is God doing now?”, I would have answered: “He has compassion for us.”
And what does this His compassion express in practice? What did the Lord do for us when He had compassion for us? The Gospel tells us clearly about this: Jesus chose special ministers through whom He would save people.
The Lord chose the ministers: first twelve apostles, and after Pentecost, the successors of the apostles: bishops and priests so that they proclaim the word of God and conduct holy sacraments so that they forgive sins of the penitents by the power given to them.
“Whoever listens to you listens to Me, and whoever rejects you rejects Me” — it is not by accident that we sang this antiphon today.
You know, it is interesting that Saint Mark in his Gospel leads a slightly different ending to our today’s story:
Jesus saw a great crowd, and he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6: 34)
And what was then? Look how liturgically it sounds:
He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. (Mark 6: 41)
And I thought: how wonderful God’s compassion is described in both Gospels! According to Saint Matthew, when the Lord had compassion for people who did not have shepherds, He chose the twelve apostles. So He gave people the shepherds who will take care of them and save them. And Saint Mark deciphers how these shepherds will save us: through them, the Lord will fill His people with the sacramental bread — the Eucharist.
This is our God, God who is love. Having compassion for people, our Lord founded the Church and chose for her the ministers who will proclaim His word and conduct the sacraments. Because this is the most important thing that we need, this is what will save us and our children.
Well, one more detail left. What does God expect from us Christians? First of all, we should have compassion for our neighbours. You and I are used to complaining about our life, saying that we are in need of this or that, but in reality, we are not poor people. Even if we don’t have much money, we have time and energy. So maybe we should get up from our comfortable sofas and look around? And we will see many of those who need us. We can comfort the harassed and helpless, we can share clothes and food with the poor and needy, and we can tell them all about our Savior Jesus Christ.
So that they also, as we before, came to church, and believe, and be baptized, and be saved.