The Season after Pentecost: Proper 11, Year B

Jesus’ compassion

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-14a
  • Psalm 89:20-37
  • Ephesians 2:11-22
  • Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Jesus knows that a tough schedule leads to burnout, so he seeks a time and place where the disciples, after their training mission, can relax and rest (6:30-32). However, when they arrive at their retreat site, they find more work to do. Without rankle or resentment, Jesus teaches and ministers to the people’s needs, spiritual and physical.

The portion of scripture that we don’t hear in today’s gospel reading (6:35-52) is Mark’s account of the feeding of the 5,000. (We hear John’s account of this next Sunday.) Even though Jesus is in need of a period of withdrawal, he realized the need of those who followed him was greater than his own. They were hungry for the truth he could impart, and were as confused as a sheep that have no shepherd (v. 34a). In his compassion, Jesus again began to teach them.

In the second part of the passage, Jesus and the apostles continue across the lake, and finally land at Gennasaret. Once again as they disembark from the boat, they are surrounded by throngs of people who recognize Jesus and bring their sick to him for healing. Wherever he goes, the response is the same. People beg to touch the fringe of his garment, and all who touch it are healed (v. 56).

This reading gives us a picture of Jesus in which he responds to the ever-changing needs of those around him with compassion and love. When the Apostle return, he recognizes that they need time to reflect on what has happened to them just as he himself needs time in solitude for renewal. However, when he saw the crowds that early awaited him “he had compassion for them” (v. 34) and changed his intended course of action to be with them to teach and heal.

All of today’s readings reflect the steadfast love of God, whether through the promises made to David and Israel, through the breaking down of barriers in Ephesians, or through the compassionate ministry of Jesus. Thus we are assured of God’s enduring presence as we strive to follow the example of Jesus by serving others with love and compassion.

For reflection:

  • As you read the opening verses of today’s Gospel (Mark 6:30-33), ho would you characterize the mood of the Apostles as they return from their mission? What was Jesus’ concern for them and why?
  • In verse 34, we read that Jesus had compassion for the crowd because they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” What does this image tell us about the people and their condition? What do we learn here about Jesus and his ministry?
  • How does Jesus cope with the conflict between his desire for retreat and his compassion? Why do you experience the same tension? What principle can you gleam from Jesus’ example? How realistic is this principle for your life?
  • What does this story tell you about the tension between needs and resources? Consider your community’s area of greatest need and the available resources. What principle can you apply from this story?
  • Jesus was continually surround by people with great needs. Yet he was willing to forgo his personal comfort in the midst of these demands. What do we learn here about what it means to follow Jesus?

About Sharon Ely Pearson

Wife, mom, grandmother; author, educator, consultant; trying to make a difference one action at a time. Christian formation has been my vocation for 40+ years - and counting!
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