Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 23.1-6; Ephesians 2.13-18; Mark 6.30-34
“As he went ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd. His heart is moved with pity for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6.34
In Sunday’s gospel the twelve return from the mission to preach and heal which Jesus sent them out to do in last Sunday’s gospel. They come back woofed. Jesus’ growing popularity surrounds them with crowds and keeps them from eating let alone resting. Mark often creates literary sandwiches, a story within a story. Last Sunday’s gospel served us the first slice of story–Jesus sending the twelve out in pairs; this Sunday we hear the second slice of story–the return of the twelve. We don’t hear the 17 verses that form the meat in the middle of the sandwich. These verses tell the story of John the Baptist’s senseless and gruesome beheading. They do more than supply time for the twelve to be out on mission. The story of John the Baptist’s tells us the twelve have embarked on the same mission that cost the Baptist and Jesus their lives. It foreshadows the cost of prophetic ministry.
Jesus cannot shut off his compassion to the people to come to him in droves. The gospel call us to preach the good news with our lives, to turn on our compassion, not turn it off.
When has pity or compassion moved you to action?