July 11, 2023
Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35–36
Jesus was quite zealous for souls. Zeal is an energy, a passion and a drive to accomplish some task. The task that Jesus was zealous for was the conversion of every heart that He encountered. As He walked from town to town, encountering person after person, Jesus could see into their hearts. He saw that so many people were “troubled and abandoned.” He could see they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” And this moved Him to compassion with a zeal to become their Shepherd, to remove the trouble from their hearts and to let them know they were invited to belong to His new Kingdom.
The image of Jesus encountering numerous people who were troubled and abandoned is a good image to ponder. The reason is that this is us. Each one of us has our own interior troubles. We can feel alone, confused, uncertain and lost at times. The person who doesn’t feel this way is either a perfect saint or is not being honest. Deep holiness and union with God does, of course, cure this interior struggle that many have. In that case, the person clearly knows they belong to the family of God, understands himself or herself as a son or daughter of God, and finds deep peace in this truth. But for those who struggle, this Scripture passage is especially for you.
First of all, to be “troubled” could be caused by many things. For some, they struggle with memories of the past, broken relationships, a lack of direction, serious sin, anger and the like. So the first question to honestly ponder is whether or not you have a troubled heart. Even the greatest of saints will find some areas they struggle with. So what is that for you?
Secondly, feeling “abandoned” is a heavy cross. The reason Jesus came was to enable us to belong to His family. That is accomplished by the gift of eternal salvation which must begin now. By receiving the forgiveness of sins and growing in a life of prayer, we come to know God in a very intimate and personal way. Yes, He is the Almighty God and Creator of all. But He is also deeply personal and intimate, and He wants to form a real relationship of love with you.
If you struggle with either of these, being troubled and/or abandoned, then consider the zeal that Jesus has for you. His tireless and extensive travels, by foot, while He was engaging in His public ministry, should be seen as a sign to you of His zeal to come to you, personally, to become your Shepherd. He wants to lift every burden and clear the way for you to discover your place in His family. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” that Jesus preached was one that invited everyone to become a member of that Kingdom. As He comes to you, know that His heart is filled with compassion for you, just as it was when He traveled the countryside so long ago. He sees you, gazes at your heart with love, and never takes His eyes off of you in your need, weakness and sin.
Reflect, today, upon the zeal that Jesus has for your own eternal salvation and holiness of life. You cannot make it through this world without Him. Let Jesus seek you out, come to you, speak to you and invite you to allow Him to shepherd you. He wants to do so with every fiber of His being; let Jesus fulfill His mission in you.
My divine Shepherd, You seek out all people with the greatest of zeal and compassion. You see every hurting and broken heart, and You desire to heal each one. Thank You for coming to me, dear Lord, for being my Shepherd and Guide. Help me to see You as You gaze at me in my weakness and pain. And help me to open my heart to You now and throughout my life. I love You, my Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.