A short reflection on Matthew 14:13-21 , the Gospel lesson for Proper 13a, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
Jesus had just received word that John the Baptist was dead. Beheaded.
Their families were close. Their mothers had gotten together when they were pregnant with each of them. They were both servants of God, sent to preach the Good News.
John had baptized him.
And now he was gone. Murdered.
Jesus’ reaction is the same reaction that many of us might have when we hear such news: we retreat. We need some time alone to process it. To weep. To pray. To remember times gone by—better times.
But, the draw of Jesus was so magnetic, he couldn’t really get away. Someone had seen where he had gone, which tipped the crowd off. And the crowd followed.
Perhaps the crowd didn’t know what had happened. Maybe they hadn’t gotten the news yet. Maybe they didn’t know that the news had effected Jesus so deeply, or that such news would even phase such a wise teacher like Jesus.
Maybe they just didn’t care. All they could see were their own needs. All they could feel was their own pain.
Matthew doesn’t give us all the details here, but I suspect that the latter option is the right one.
I suspect that because when I’m in despair it’s hard for me to see the despair of another too. All I can do is see the hurt that’s inside of me.
But, that’s not how Jesus operates.
He could have sent them away. He could have told them all what had happened to John. He could have just cried and yelled and screamed. He could have gotten into the boat, conjured up a good storm and been done with them all.
But, he was moved with compassion. He always is. He was able to see beyond his own pain, and feel the pain they were bringing.
And so he healed them. And when he was done healing them, he fed them.
This passage shows so beautifully the humanity and divinity of Jesus. Mourning and grieving, and yet offering healing and life at the same time.
Like manna from heaven, day by day, he is always enough.