Moved with Pity
(16th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Jer. 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)
The word “shepherd” in Church usage refers to priests, and Jeremiah’s “Woe to the shepherds” text may well make us think of the scandals continuing to rock the Church. But in the Old Testament, it was the rulers who were called shepherds, and it is they whom Jeremiah condemns.
God promises his sheep that he will “appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them,” and give them a king “who will reign and govern wisely.” We can easily see this prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, whose “heart was moved with pity for the crowd.”
Many centuries later, a Beautiful Lady’s heart was moved with pity for her people. And, like Jesus, she “taught them many things.”
St. Paul writes, “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.” Our Lady of La Salette sorrowfully reverses this saying in her message. Her people, who once had become near, were now far off from her Son.
Simply by speaking of her Son, who “is our peace,” she “preached peace” as he did. Just as St. Paul cannot seem to find enough ways to say how Jesus brought reconciliation to Jewish and Gentile Christians alike, so Mary finds abundant ways to describe how her people need that reconciliation. She also shows how they might encounter it, namely by honoring the Lord’s Name, respecting the Lord’s Day, turning to him in prayer, participating in the Eucharist.
All of these, and more, are expressions of the trust expressed in today’s Psalm. The God who spreads a table before us is the same God who saw Maximin’s anxious father give him a piece of bread. This is the compassionate God whose goodness and kindness follow us all the days of our life.
Instead of suffering famine, those who respond to Mary’s message shall not want. Instead of being like sheep without a shepherd, they will walk in right paths, their souls will be refreshed, they will fear no evil. This is not a dream. It is a prophetic vision.
Pity is not just a feeling. It leads to action. Jesus taught the people looking to him for hope. Mary came to renew that hope. Look around you. Whom do you pity? How will you act?