Daily Reflection
July 23rd, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Jeremiah 23:1-16
Psalms 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34

We all have physically felt a something in our stomachs when hearing of some very good or terrible news.  It happens so fast and smiles or tears so quickly come across our cheeks.  It is adrenaline preparing our bodies for action, but before medical science discovered this, the emotions were thought to reside in the “Nobler viscera”.  

In this weekend’s reading of the Gospel we watch Jesus having “pity” on those who have followed him and His disciples across the lake.  “Pity” here is not forgiveness, but a more intense feeling.  The Greek word used means that Jesus’ emotions were moved at the sight of their condition.

There was a philosophy or psychology that stressed the importance of strict control of emotions.  The highest virtue of a human would be such control over one’s emotions that those emotions would not effect any human choice or action.  This was a virtue and yet the picture we have of Jesus is that God is moved deeply with the condition of humanity.  Jesus is moved from deep inside Him.  

In our First Reading, we hear the prophet Jeremiah proclaim God’s jealous love for Israel.  God is moved with the conditions into which former “shepherds” have led the people.  Those leaders have not been faithful to their calling and to their people.  God will raise a new shepherd from the line of David and He will do what is just and right.  His name will be, “The Lord Our Justice.”  What is right and just, Jesus is and does.  He is the new shepherd Who will be faithful in revealing the deep and protective love of God for all humanity of all time.

Some find the proof that Jesus was really  human in the one story of His being angry with the sellers within the temple.  Love is more a clear picture than anger of what it is to be human.  Jesus is not a casual lover nor merely fascinated by our states of being lost, fearful, tired and needy.  Jesus is moved with a love, which comes from His guts, where emotions were thought to reside.  Here we have, in a sense, an unvirtuous person.  If virtue is complete mastery over our feelings, then Jesus is out of control. He and His disciples were going off for a retreat or vacation or just to get away and yet we see Jesus not wanting to distance Himself from the world’s needs.  He will feed them, not because He feels sorry for them, no, no, not sorry, but He loves them.  They have sought Him and they are going to receive more than they were requesting.

I have noticed that when a foursome of men are gathered at a golf tee and one of them slices a shot way off the fairway, the other three conveniently and quickly turn away so as not to enter into the embarrassing, disappointing and emotional condition of their companion.  They seem to be preoccupied with a tree over there or a jet passing over-head.  They do have some kind of compassion with their partner, but distance themselves from the pain.

Jesus, and eventually too His disciples, refuse to be mastered by anything except the emotion and reality of deeply felt love.  He does not turn way from our bad shots, mistakes and our pain, but is eternally moved to embrace us and perhaps teach us how to drive straight and true.

The golfer might find great consolation in the first verse of the Responsorial Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  In verdant pasture he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.”  God does not take the shots nor make the shots for us and when we go off into one form of sand or another kind of rough, then our God remains faithful with such intense love that this God remains eternally out of control. 

As I was finishing this writing, I received a phone call.  The plaintive voice was tearfully asking me to come and visit a person in the hospital whom I have never met.   I am busy today and it is hot and in listening to the person on the other end, I was also listening to what I had just written.  I am off to the hospital right now. 

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