When Jesus disembarked and 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 apostles return from their mission. They are tired after this inaugural mission to preach the good news and cast out demons. Jesus and the apostles try to get away to a deserted place to rest. The crowds have such great need that they seek Jesus and arrive before he does. In this prelude to feeding the massesâ€”meeting their needsâ€”Jesus is moved with pity. According to Ched Myers, the word for pityâ€”splagchnizomai means â€œhaving oneâ€™s guts torn apart.â€Jesus had a pity and compassion that was unsurpassed. Jesus shows us the face of the God who â€œhas pity on us.â€
Jesus shows us the face of God so that we might see God in others. Mother Teresa saw Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. An editorial in todayâ€™s Wall Street Journal critiques the economic stimulus package. The author speaks of transfer moneyâ€”money which goes to meet the needs of the crowd but which comes from some other source, e.g. taxes, cuts in other programs, etcâ€¦ The rap is on taking money from one source to meet the needs of people.
If a poor person gets a $10 buck stimulus, he or she certainly will spend it. If enough poor people do that, will that not be some stimulus to the economy? What the author is really against is fashioning â€œsocialâ€ programs which meet the needs of the vast crowd for food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education. The 37 million who live in abject poverty today in the richest nation on earth and the millions of others who are the working poor are the vast crowd of today. They are looking for someone to have pity on them. Too many Americans know no solidarity with others. They live by the motto, â€œIâ€™ve got mine. You get yours, if you can.â€ Mark is telling us that Jesus was a community organizer who tried to meet the needs of people.
Jesusâ€™ gut would be torn with compassion for the poor today. Will ours? This prelude to the feeding of the vast crowd should encourage us to have the gut of Jesusâ€”twisting and torn with strong feelings of compassion for people in need. We then are moved to action to alleviate human suffering because the God of peace wants us to have everything we need in order to do God’s will (Heb. 13).