Today’s Bible: Mark 6: 30-46 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31 He told them, “Come alone to a desolate place and rest a little.” Because many came and went, and they did not have free time to eat. 32 They themselves went in a boat to a desolate place. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, so they hurried there on foot from all the cities and arrived in front of them. 34 As he went ashore, he saw a large crowd; and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 When it was late, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is late; 36 send them to go to the surrounding villages and hamlets and buy themselves something to eat. ” 37 But he said unto them, Give them to eat. They told him: “Do we want to go and buy two hundred denars?”[a] worth bread and give it to them to eat? ” 38 And he said unto them, How many loaves have ye? Go and see. ” When they found out, they said, “Five and two fish.” 39 He then ordered them to make all the people sit in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of one hundred and fifty. 41 He took five loaves and two fishes, looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and divided the two fish into all of them. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied; 43 and took twelve baskets full of broken pieces and fish. 44 There were five thousand people who ate bread.
45 He immediately made his disciples get into the boat and move forward to the other side, to Whitside, while dispersing the people. 46 After saying goodbye to them, he climbed the mountain to pray.
Tim’s pious reflection for today
A useful way to access Scripture is to ask three questions:
- What does this say about the nature of God?
What this passage says about God is the word we encounter here: compassion. Jesus, who perfectly revealed the nature of God, looked at the multitude of people and felt pity for them. Jesus’ answer shows us the heart of God: “He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd …”
- What does this say about humanity? He says we are like “sheep without a shepherd.”
When you look through the human landscape through the eyes of Jesus, you see the achievements and potential, and strengths of humanity. You see that God loves us deeply. At the same time, you know that we can be like sheep without a shepherd. You can see the injuries of humanity. You see the pain in the heart of love and loss. You see fears and insecurities about the future, aging, dying and all the other things we are afraid of. You see the failure to get together. You see how often we do things that are destructive to us and we don’t do what we should. You see the difficulty we have in connecting our lives with each other and building bridges of peace. You see that feeling of loneliness that sometimes goes along with humanity. Looking at humanity through the eyes of Jesus shows us who we are: we are like sheep without shepherds – and sheep need shepherds.
- What does this say about the relationship between God and humanity?
We are like “sheep without a shepherd,” but God does not leave us without a shepherd. It is sad God’s heart when it sees us sway, to wander, to see us without worries, to see us without a sense of hope and purpose. Thus God entered our human existence and experience in the person of Jesus, the Word who became flesh. “I am the good shepherd,” Jesus said in John 10:14. “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” That is the good news of our faith. The relationship between God and humanity is the relationship between shepherds and sheep.
In ancient times, people were well acquainted with sheep and sheep. We see this in the passages of Scripture from Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) to Ezekiel (where God says I will be the shepherd of my own sheep) Jesus (who says I am the Good Shepherd).
In most of these paintings, we imagine a rather pastoral scene of a shepherd leading the way and all the sheep that obediently follow them, all neat and tidy and under control.
But the reality of the shepherd is not always so easy. Sometimes sheep don’t want to go anywhere. They eat grass with satisfaction, they watch their work. When the shepherd wants to move them, the shepherd sometimes has to step on his feet and push them a little to get going. The slingshot that shepherds would wear, like David’s slingshot, served more than one purpose. It can scare, injure or kill a predator. But it could also lead the sheep and run them sometimes – for example, a little bark at the back end for a sheep that has strayed in the wrong direction.
The shepherd’s job is not just walking with the sheep that obediently follow them, but the shepherd is right there among the sheep, constantly caring and watching and walking after the sheep that has wandered or standing among the sheep and feeding them. This is a beautiful picture we find in the prophet Micah. Micah 5 says, “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord.” what to.
If you’ve ever fed cattle, you know they don’t line up, but they pile up. Imagine a shepherd standing in the middle of a flock and feeding them: noise, pushing, clutter and sharp hooves on the shepherd’s toes.
It is a picture of the Good Shepherd in the middle of the flock: right in the middle of where we live, with clutter, clutter, noise, and sometimes in the midst of sheep that do not want to follow them.
This tells us something about the nature of the relationship between God and humanity: God is right there in the midst of us, the shepherd in the midst of the flock.