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Gospel for Sunday, July 18: Mark 6: 30-34

XVI Sunday B

30The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him everything they had done and taught. 31And he said to them: “Come away by yourself to a solitary place and rest a while.” In fact, there was a large crowd coming and going and they no longer even had time to eat. 32Then they left in the boat to a lonely place, apart. 33However, many saw them leaving and understood, and from all the cities they began to flock there on foot and preceded them. 34When he disembarked, he saw a large crowd and was moved by them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6: 30-34

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

30: – The Apostles return to Jesus, gather around him and tell him the outcome of their mission. Jesus is the point of reference for our life, Jesus is the center of the Church, he is Jesus to whom we must continually turn. The important thing is to be with Jesus: Mark tells us that the disciple is the one who is with Jesus. We must be with the Lord, we must have an intense life with him. Faith is not an ideology, faith is not a series of notions, faith is not a series of concepts, faith is our love with the Lord: if we love the Lord, if we are warm to Him, heart to heart with Him, then we are Christians.

– The Apostles “do and teach”: they are the two verbs that are used to describe the action of Jesus: “do” (“Jesus did”; 3,8) and “teach”: the verb “to teach” is used in Marco 21 times.

31:-The disciples gather around Jesus and what does Jesus do? He sends them on holiday: this is very nice. The importance of breaks, detachments and solitary places is underlined. The importance of contemplation, of retreat, of deserting, of being, in a society like the current one in which what matters is production, is the multiplication of activity, the multiplication of meetings. The sick, the elderly, are put aside, because they no longer produce: Jesus reminds us that the believer is the man of being, and not of doing.

This is a very important invitation, especially for the Church today, a Church that often has the temptation of managerialism to better announce the Kingdom. But this is not Christianity: to better announce Christ we pray more, we spend more with him, we listen to his Word, because his Word, Mark told us in the booklet of parables (Mk 4,1-34), is a seed that grows on its own, whether we water it or not. Therefore we must always be careful not to indulge the power of this world, not to think like the pagans: the Christian bases his preaching on the madness of the cross, “a scandal to the Jews, foolishness to the pagans” (1 Cor 1,17- 31), not on the strength of men. Paul insists that God enjoyed choosing what the world considered foolish and rubbish to make it the instrument of his evangelization (1 Cor 1:18-25).

Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus is the patroness of the missions, and she died of consumption at the age of 24, without ever having left her cell as a cloistered nun, and she is the greatest missionary, together with Saint Francis Xavier, who instead traveled all over world, and died on an island in China.

This passage from Mark makes us reflect: the most important thing is prayer, it is the intrinsic strength of the Word, the “exousìa” and the “dynamis”, the authority and power of the Word of God which alone brings forward the Kingdom , not our mundane efforts.

32: – The disciples have to get into the boat to get away from the crowd (as Jesus did in chapter 3), they have no time to eat (the same was said of Jesus in chapter 3.20), they retreat to a deserted place (as Jesus had done in chapter 1).

What does this mean? The Christian is “alter Christus”, “another Christ”: following Christ is imitation of Christ. Christ is our model: we must act like Jesus, we must teach like Jesus, we must live like Jesus.

The others looking at us must say: “Luigi, Paolo, Beppe, Carlo, Marilena, Marina, they are other Jesuses”, and for our part we must model our lives on the life of Jesus. When we are in trial, when we are in temptation, we must say : “How would Jesus behave in my place?”. When I have to make daily life choices, the only question I have to answer is this: “What would the Lord choose in my place?”. The disciple imitates the Lord. Jesus is our model. Sometimes in life we have difficulties: so let’s remember that we have this model, which is Christ, the safest point of reference.

33: – What does the boat mean in Mark? The boat is the symbol of the Church: it is the whole Church that moves with Jesus.

34: – Jesus “saw a large crowd and was moved (esplanchnìsthe)”. Faced with every infirmity or need, Jesus “is moved”, “feels compassion”. They are very strong terms, which we find in the Gospels to express the Lord’s feelings towards the leper: “Moved with compassion (splanchnisthèis), he stretched out his hand” (Mk 1,41); to the guideless and hungry crowds: “I feel compassion (splanchnìzomai) for this crowd, because… they have nothing to eat” (Mk 8:2); to people who can no longer take it: “Seeing the crowds, he felt compassion (esplanchnìsthe) for them because they were tired and exhausted” (Mt 9.36); to the sick: “he felt compassion (esplanchnìsthe) for them and healed their sick” (Mt 14, 14); to the widow of Naim: “The Lord had compassion on her (esplanchnìsthe) and said to her: «Do not cry»” (Lk 7,13)… The verb splanchnìzomai is always used, which indicates visceral emotion, translating the Hebrew rehamin, which it properly expresses the bowels, the seat of emotions, our “heart”: it is a plural form of réhèm, the maternal breast, the female uterus: it is the tremor of a mother for her children, it is a very intense emotion.

Our God is not the unmoving mover of Aristotle, our God is a God who suffers, he is a God who cries, he is a God who is moved when he sees the suffering of men. He is the God who is truly Love, he is the God who participates in the sufferings of men, and takes on their pain: it is the great mystery of the Cross presented to us by Mark.

-“He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd”. Throughout the Old Testament, God himself is the Shepherd of Israel. Jesus is God the Shepherd who comes for the peace of his People, and the Messiah Shepherd is the Model Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep (Jn 10), solicitous also for the sheep that are not of his fold, ready to seek the lost sheep. Here God expresses his merciful pastoralism with the gift first of the Word and then of food.

-“He began to teach them many things”: a catechesis is first necessary to understand the mystery of the Bread that will be offered in the following passage.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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