When Jesus heard that Herod Antipas, the ruler of that part of the country, thought he might be John the Baptist raised from the dead, he left Herod’s territory by boat, but a large crowd, pursuing him on foot, gathered at the spot where he landed asking for healing. With deep compassion, he responded to their requests. As the day wore on the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send the crowd, which numbered more than five thousand, back to their homes in time for the evening meal. Jesus said that it was not necessary for them to be sent away. “You feed them,” he said. “We only have five loaves and two fish,” they replied. “Bring them here to me,” he said, and ordered the people to sit down on the grass. He took the meagre rations that the disciples brought to him, prayed, blessed and broke them into pieces which he gave back to the disciples for distribution to the crowd, and everyone was fed. They all had enough with plenty to spare. Other gospel writers vary it a little. Note the theme of compassion that flows through the story. It was out of deep compassion that Jesus healed. The disciples show compassion in their concern lest the people go hungry, but their compassion is not enough. Jesus asks them to give up what they had. When they hand it over to him, it becomes more than enough. Compassion on its own is never enough. It takes sacrifice, inconvenience, for it to become effective, and whatever we hand over to Christ, insignificant though it might seem to be, is multiplied many times over in his hands.
- Think of some examples where you have experienced compassion at work.
- What is the difference between deep and shallow compassion?
- What is meant by compassion fatigue? Is it right that we have various depths of compassion?
- What experience have you had of seemingly insignificant things being handed over to Christ being multiplied beyond expectation?