Sunday, 2nd August is ‘The Eighth Sunday after Trinity’ in the Church’s calendar.
Today, we hear about the feeding of the five thousand. In our Gospel reading (Matthew 14. 13-21) we experience Jesus’ grief as he responds to the news of the death of his cousin John the Baptist. However, amidst his grief and efforts to be alone, he encounters a great crowd.
Despite his own problems, Jesus doesn’t just see a gathering of anonymous people, he sees individuals and we are told he had compassion on them. In their search for help and hope Jesus teaches and heals them. When the crowd becomes hungry for physical food he reaches out with amazing abundance. Hurting people are always met by Jesus’ compassionate touch. Outreach and evangelism, from God’s perspective, begin with compassion. Jesus then teaches his disciples that although they have little to share, 5 loaves and 2 fish, it is still their responsibility to offer hope to the gathered crowd. Jesus uses what little the disciples have to offer help and hope to all.
Amidst the many horrors of the world, brought into our living rooms by TV and internet, we often suffer from ‘compassion fatigue’. We become immune to the element of true human suffering because we believe we can’t actually make a difference.
Jesus never has ‘compassion fatigue’. His love for individuals and crowds is eternal. What we need to trust and believe is that God can take our ‘not enough’ and make it ‘more than enough’. Amazing things can happen when we see with the eyes of compassion and make ourselves available as God’s agents. It doesn’t matter what we have, it matters what God can do with what we have. Very small amounts of money and generosity can save people’s lives. Prayers and action can transform desperate situations.
Somewhere in your experiences this week, you will see a person or situation where compassion is needed. God needs agents of compassion to do his work and the agent God has chosen is you. When you wonder what can be done to help an individual or situation, remember that your ‘not enough’ can be ‘more than enough’ in the hands of God. So, have compassion, believe, trust, make a difference and may we all be empowered to ‘give them something to eat!’