Tomorrow, 29 August, we mark the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist.
When Jesus heard of the death of His cousin, John the Baptist, He was sad. He desired to go away to a quiet place with the apostles, far away from all contact with people. He wanted to spend time by Himself, perhaps to mourn John’s death, but upon seeing the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them. Consequently His itinerary for that day changed. His priority became the people’s need at that time. This Gospel has enabled me to describe Jesus in the following important words that still apply to each one of us today:
Jesus paid attention to the needs of the people. At first He preached to them about the Kingdom of God then He healed those who were sick.
Jesus felt pity upon seeing the crowd following Him. They were in need of His presence. Jesus could not let them down nor turn them away. The people gave their time for Him. His passion for the people was shown as His love offering through the giving of His life.
Jesus had no barriers when offering His time to the people because His heart was totally for them. He never said no to them. He was not inattentive. His connection with them was always through joyful service.
Jesus’ care for the people was not a half-way giving but a total giving of Himself, without reservation. He gave his full service for a day and more with them.
When the day was over, Jesus fed the crowd. He did not let them go away with empty stomachs. For the whole day-long journey, Jesus’ deeds were accomplished well. The hearts of Jesus and the people were in union with each other as He filled their souls with His teachings and their body nourished by the abundance of food. As it is often said in today’s world: “He is the total package”.
It was a celebration when Jesus offered them a life lived to the full in His presence, and through His words and good deeds – including healing those who were sick with many kinds of diseases. The simple banquet was served and the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish offered for everybody. In all significant celebrations, the sharing of food is the climax of the occasion. Why? Because this is where we share not only food but the presence of each other, enjoying the act of sharing food and life together. It touches people’s lives, regardless of each person’s experience. In any feasts, whether big or small, the sharing of food play a big part in the occasion because life has been shared in each individual. It is giving birth to a new life, a new beginning, new realisations, new challenges, new learnings and new hope in every one’s heart.
This is what happens at every Eucharistic Celebration in which we participate. Jesus invites us to be with Him at every banquet He celebrates. He avails Himself to enjoy that very moment to be with us, and for us to listen attentively to His words found in the sacred scriptures. We are with Him, partaking in the bread of life and drinking the cup for our salvation. This is the Eucharist that He promised to His apostles at the Last Supper – and to us as He is always present with us.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for not giving up on us whether we are in sorrow or joy at each moment of our lives. The glory is all yours, Lord, now and forever. Amen.