My Sisters and Brothers!
The Gospel for this Sunday presents us with a similar situation. The Apostles returned to Jesus after their first mission content though tired. Our Blessed Lord noticed their tiredness and offered them going to a lonely, deserted place to have some well-deserved rest. However upon arriving they discovered that the place wasn’t deserted or lonely anymore. There was a crowd of people waiting for Jesus. One could say that Jesus’ holiday plans were upset. The reaction of Jesus doesn’t show any annoyance though. What was reported by St Mark we read in the Gospel today: “Jesus saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
The way Jesus was looking at the crowd was like that day when “He saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea,” like when “he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets,” or like when “he saw Lewi the son of Alpheus sitting at the tax office and said to him: Follow me.” It is the look of God who came to search and save what was lost. It is the look of God for whom a human being is important and worth of all sacrifices and troubles. Let’s not overlook this little detail in the Gospel today: “Jesus saw the crowd.”
It reminds me of what our Founder, Saint Eugene de Mazenod advised us, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate: to see the world through the eyes of the crucified Saviour. These are the eyes which acknowledge how much Jesus has invested to save people. He didn’t invested some surplus but he spent his whole life to last drop of his blood to save those sheep who were without a shepherd. Although the cross is till at some distance, at this stage of the Gospel reading, in Jesus’ eyes we can detect the loving, forgiving and compassionate eyes of the Crucified. The eyes that were looking upon the evil world with what St Mark describe today as “Jesus took pity on them.” This is the eyesight of a person who forgets of himself, of his own comfort and plans in order to sacrifice for others. If we sent a reporter to the Sea of Galilea to observe the scene he would broadcast the scene that looks more like a reunion of friends rather than upset holiday plans.
I believe that this attitude of Jesus transfigured a young Italian, Mario Borzaga who preparing for is final vows wrote in his diary: “I have understood my vocation: to be a happy man, even in the effort to identify myself with the Crucified Christ.” Fr Mario understood even more, he understood that happiness can be found even when the plans and dreams are upset. When at the age of 25 he was sent to Laos he realized that lots of his plans were shattered. He wanted to be a missionary but he struggled to learn the local language: “My cross is myself, I am a cross to myself. My cross is the language which I do not manage to learn. My cross is my timidity which prevents me from saying one word in Laotian.” But he knew that he didn’t come to Laos to be admired and congratulated but to serve the people and he did serve. Three years later, at the age of 27 he was martyred as the Church has assured us through our Holy Father Pope Francis who has recognized Fr Mario’s death as a martyrdom. Later this year he will be beatified. The man who wanted to be a happy man not by getting what he wanted but by doing the will of God, by forgetting of his plans to serve God and others.