Today is Saturday, February 3rd. In pondering the readings for today, I saw a connection between the Gospel passage and the first reading. We see in the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus and His Apostles have gathered and elected to go off by themselves to a deserted place to rest a while. People were coming to them in vast numbers to be healed, to be ministered to and to come into contact with Christ. So busy were Jesus and His Apostles that “they had no opportunity even to eat.”
Jesus and His Apostles set off in a boat, not to escape or to flee, but rather to recharge and refuel themselves to serve those who sought them out. They went off to recharge and refuel so they could meet the needs of others. However, word gets out and the crowds are waiting for them on the other side. Jesus’ response to this vast crowd was empathy, pity and compassion.
Life is not always easy. In the “crowds” of our daily lives we see: an ill family member, a friend grieving the loss of a loved one, a child struggling with behavioral issues, a spouse unemployed or undervalued and overworked in their job, a marriage in trouble or someone we love battling mental health issues or addictions.
This is where I see that link to the first reading. Our hearts are moved, like Christ’s, with empathy, pity and compassion. Often, we do not know what to do or we exhaust ourselves and do not allow ourselves to go off to a deserted place to recharge and refuel. Often, we think we have all the answers. Notice that Solomon asks for something in the first reading in response to God saying, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Rather than riches or fame, Solomon asks for understanding.
In the midst of the “crowds” of daily life, let us ask God for understanding.
Lord, help us to understand when we need to go off by ourselves and rest. Lord, help us to understand when we need to meet those in need. Lord, help us to understand how you are calling us to show empathy, pity and compassion.