Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.
Withdrawing, is not necessary ne seen as something negative. It can save us from many dangers and can create many more opportunities. We need to learn from Jesus to withdraw, the right moment and towards the right place. Very often we interpret the divine silence, synonym to His absence. In truth, it is in these dark moments of life, we get a wonderful opportunity for a divine encounter. When such occasions present before us, that we need to express our faith and remain faithful to God.
Jesus withdraws and the crowd follows him. An ordinary day, yet a divine manifestation through miracles, including the presence of Jesus, a recognition of the people. Jesus does not withdraw to distance himself from the people, but quite the opposite, simply to give them a closeness accessible to all, including the evil spirits. Jesus would like to convert and save all. This closeness created by God voluntarily gives us the hope to convert and to come closer to the Lord.
In truth, it is not His unavailability that keeps us away from His grace, but we simply voluntarily keep ourselves away from His presence and grace. Jesus promised us that He would be with us until the end of the world and He remains faithful to that promise. True to his promise, he makes himself available. We, on our part, must run to Him, as children run to their parents.
Action of the day: Run towards God, with the hope.
“A large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon”
Fr. Melcior QUEROL i Solà
(Ribes de Freser, Girona, Spain)
Today, with the baptisms by John in the Jordan still recent, we should all remember the kind of conversion brought about as a result of our baptism. We have all been baptized into one Lord, into one only faith, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1Co 12:13). This is the aim of unity: to form a single body, to be a single unity in Christ, so that the world may believe.
In today's Gospel we see “A large crowd from Galilee followed him" and "a great number of people” coming from other places surrounded the Lord (cf. Mk 3:7-8). And He paid heed to all, procuring, without exception, their good. We have to keep this in mind during the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Let us realize how, throughout the centuries, we Christians have divided ourselves into Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and a long list of other Christian confessions. This evidences a historic sin against one of the essential points of our Church: its unity.
But, let us face today's ecclesial reality: Our bishoprics, our parishes, our Christian groups and associations. Are we truly "One"? Will this type of unity really be a motive for conversion for those who are away from the Church? “That they also may be in us, that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21), pleaded Jesus to the Father. Our challenge is that the others may see a group of believers united to one another, gathered by the Holy Spirit, under the Church of Christ: “All the believers were one in heart and mind.” (cf. Acts 4:32-34).
Let us remember that, the unity of the Assembly must be manifested as a fruit of the Eucharist —as well as the union of each one with Jesus— since we feed on the same Bread to be one body. Therefore, what the sacraments stand for, and the graces they contain, demand we work towards communion with all people. Our conversion is to the Unity of the Trinity (which is a gift from Heaven), and our sanctifying task cannot avert the gestures of communion, understanding, welcome and forgiveness towards others.