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(Part 112)


January 6, 2015
Today’s gospel: Mark 6:34-44

In order to become the people God wants us to become, and to do the work God wants us to do, we need to see with God’s eyes. We need to take on divine vision.

Looking at people in the world, what did Jesus see? He saw that “they were like sheep without a shepherd” (v.34c). What do we see in people today? They are lost ­ in a world of fantasy, in a culture of sex and drugs, in an environment of greed and selfishness. Except for the dire cases of poverty or perversity, we might consider the problems of people as just normal. We think, they will make it through somehow. But if they do not have the Good Shepherd, they are not only lost, they are headed for perdition. It is not just their health or emotions or social relations that are under threat, but their very souls!

If we do not see that, then we go about our merry way. After all, we also have our own problems. But that was not the case with Jesus, as “his heart was moved with pity for them” (v.34b). He was disturbed. He was filled with mercy and compassion. He was moved to act, “and he began to teach them many things.” (v.34d). If we are able to take on Jesus’ vision, then we too need to be moved with pity for the lost souls. And we too need to act, starting with sharing Christ.

But we see how staggering that work is. There are 1.19 billion lost sheep among Catholics. We look at our resources and see how little we have. How can we even make a dent in the problem?

Again, it is all about vision. It is not our work, but God’s. We are just His instruments. We do not rely on our own resources, but look to God’s provision. And God of course is all-powerful, for whom nothing is impossible. That includes performing miracles such as multiplying loaves and fishes. Jesus wanted to feed a vast crowd, but only had “five loaves and two fish” (v.38b). We know what he did. He fed “five thousand men” (v.44) and had “twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish” as leftovers (v.43).

What should we learn from this episode? First, God wants to involve us in the work, directing us and giving us leeway to take the initiative. Jesus said to his disciples, “Give them some food yourselves.” (v.37a). We are not robots that are just programmed and told what to do. Aside from hearts that are moved with pity, we are to have minds that think like God. We are to go into the world, look at the problems, devise the solutions, and move with the Spirit.

Second, we are not to think just with human minds, assessing situations with flawed human wisdom, and oftentimes concluding we cannot get the job done. “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” (v.37b). We do not just assess how much money we have, how many talented brethren we can use, how many contacts we can tap, how much energy we are able to expend. In doing so, we are often defeated even before we start. Rather, we look to the God who sends us to do the work. The grace of God is bountiful, and the power of the Spirit is awesome. If God sends us to do something, then He equips us and enables us to do it, often accompanied by signs and wonders.

Third, we must actually anticipate the miracles that God will do in our work. The work of evangelization after all is not a human endeavor. It is divine work. We must not shortchange God. With faith we look to mountains being moved, to storms being calmed, to the spiritually dead being raised back to life, and of course to loaves and fishes being multiplied.

Expand your vision, and see what God will cause to happen to all those lost sheep. “They all ate and were satisfied.” (v.42).

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