Saturday, February 13, 2010

Knowing the heart of Jesus


"Jesus summoned the disciples and said, 'My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat'...His disciples answered him, 'Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?' Still he asked them, 'How many loaves do you have?' They replied, 'Seven.' He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.There were about four thousand people." (Mark 8.1-10)

Our Gospel readings this week have given us a chance to reflect upon some of the miraculous healing stories of Jesus. One of the central themes we typically focus upon is that the miracle stories of Jesus - curing the blind, the deaf, the mute, the lepers, and the feedings stories - are passages that confirm for us the Divinity of Jesus. Surely, He must be the Son of God for such wonders to occur.  And this is certainly an important aspect of these passages.

Today, we are given another miracle story to ponder in our hearts, the feeding of the 4,000.  We usually look upon feeding stories through a Eucharistic lens.  We see in the feeding of this large number of people as reflective of the way that God nourishes us and a prefiguring of the Eucharist - the greatest multiplication of loaves that continues to our own day.  And these are wonderful aspects of this passage to ponder.

But, I want to zero in on a few of the details of this story today that tell us something incredible about our God and about the way that He wants to relate to us.

The first is this.  Notice that before this miraculous multiplication takes place Jesus says, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowds."  Don't pass over this too quickly.  In this simple statement we have an incredible moment.  The God of the Universe, the Almighty Himself, has chosen to reveal His heart to us.  And that heart is moved with pity.  If you think about this miracle story, the reality is that Jesus doesn't need to tell us anything.  He can simply give orders.  He could have said, "Peter bring me that bread.  Thomas bring me that fish." He could have blessed it, multiplied it and the people would have been fed.  Instead, Jesus begins by revealing His heart to us.

And after that, He still doesn't simply do what must be done, but He invites His disciples to brainstorm with Him, to collaborate with Him in solving this problem.  He essentially says, "What do you guys think?  How can we feed these people?"

And the power is in the fact that this read these stories over and over, not simply to remind ourselves about Jesus' Divinity; or what God has done for us, but because they are an invitation.  

Jesus reveals His heart to us not for purposes of information, but because He wants our hearts to be in line with His heart.  Jesus was moved with pity, with compassion and with love for the people and He wants the same from us.  He wants us to likewise look upon His people with the same compassion and love.

And the feeding is not a one-time event that we simply recall.  Instead, the hungry still need to be fed; the homeless still need to be sheltered; the naked still need to be clothed.  Jesus reveals to us his love and compassion and then asks us to, "What do you think we should do about this?"  He wants us to share His love and then He wants us to collaborate with Him on finding the solution.

And, perhaps here is where we find a challenge.  We can tend to look at the Corporal Works of Mercy has obligations of our faith.  Why do I feed the hungry, house the homeless or clothe the naked?  Because Jesus said I had to.  This isn't what He wants.  Jesus wants us to conform our hearts with His heart and to collaborate with Him because our hearts have become hearts of compassion, pity, mercy and love.

In just a few days we embark once again upon our season of Lent.  Maybe this is a good question to reflect on during the weeks of our Lenten journey. Where is my heart?  Have I conformed my heart to the heart of Jesus?  Jesus reveals His heart to us continually and invites us to conform ourselves to Him.  Let us pray that we too may more and more have the heart of Christ!

May the Lord give you peace!

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