Reflections On Today’s Gospel Reading

Saturday, First Week of Advent

When Jesus looked out upon the crowd in today’s gospel reading, he saw them as ‘harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd’. We can probably all identify moments in our lives when we felt harassed and dejected. The pandemic we have been dealing with for almost two years now may have left us feeling like that at times, but also other difficult experiences that come our way. According to the gospel reading, the sight of the harassed and dejected crowds touched Jesus deeply. He had compassion for them and he immediately set about responding to their need, their vulnerable state. He chose twelve from among his disciples to share in his healing and life-giving mission in a special way and he called on the disciples as a whole to pray, asking the Lord of the harvest to send more labourers into the harvest. Jesus knew that the need was greater than he could meet alone; he needed labourers to work alongside him. Just as the Lord, in his compassion, responded immediately to the crowds whom he recognized as harassed and rejected, he responds compassionately to us when we feel harassed and dejected. He will find a way to touch our lives with his healing presence, sometimes very directly in prayer, at other times through someone he has called to be a labourer in God’s harvest. In the language of today’s first reading, the Lord always stands ready to dress the wound of his people; in the words of the responsorial psalm, he ‘heals the broken-hearted; he binds up all their wounds’. The Lord who comes to each of us in our need, in our vulnerability, also looks to each of us to be labourers in this harvest, to be channels of his compassionate presence to those who feel harassed and dejected today.

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