[laread_first_letter]A[/laread_first_letter]s I begin a time of vacation, I sit this evening with a bible, reviewing some of the recent Gospel readings from St. Matthew. I stopped to reflect upon the words regarding Jesus:
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9: 35-36)
It is good to think of Jesus. It is beneficial to recall his compassion. Such reflection and contemplation lifts our minds and hearts to the Lord, which is a way to anticipate our final end, which is to return to the God who created us. Jesus’ heart is always moved as he gazes upon us.
His heart was moved with pity. The Church in her members are the body of Christ. We are to have the mind and heart of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) We are to be filled with compassion for one another, especially the poor and those who struggle to secure the basic necessities of life for their families.
Even though Pope Francis does not want airport bishops, I regret to admit that I seem to spend a fair amount of time in airports. Recently, an elderly woman was somewhat overwhelmed by the size of the Denver airport, and asked how to go through security. I rode with her down the escalator, overlooking the long lines of security, explaining to her where she needed to go, and invited her to follow me. When we got to the bottom of the escalator, I said again: “Follow me.” and she said “Thanks” and went another direction. I felt bad as I continued on my hurried way. I also felt like this poor soul should probably not be out in public by herself. I was quickly given an opportunity to redeem myself while boarding the plane, as another elderly person needed help getting her luggage in the overhead compartment. I gladly assisted her! Someone else asked me to hear their confession. I happily gave them my undivided attention, and the absolution of God’s mercy.
His heart was moved with pity. I think of Pope Francis when I think of Christ being moved with pity and compassion. So many people want to classify Pope Francis as a liberal, or a socialist. But, Pope Francis defies such classification. He is neither traditional nor progressive; right or left; neither conservative nor liberal. He is the compassion of Christ, and he is calling the Church in her members to be compassionate. This is what we are challenged with in this Jubliee of Mercy. Can we simply accompany one another through the messiness of life, without judging, walking together in this pilgrimage of life?
His heart was moved with pity. This compassion for humanity still moves the heart of Christ today for you and for all of us. This compassion moved his heart to call others to follow him, and compelled him to instruct his disciples:
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38)
Christ is still compassionate. Christ is still calling. Listen for his voice. Listen to him. You are called. We are called. Let our hearts be moved with pity, as we enter the vineyard of the Lord, to build the Kingdom of God.