The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today we celebrate St. Paul Miki, a Jesuit seminarian martyred in sixteenth century Japan. Like many other martyrs throughout the centuries, accounts of his death tell of St. Paul Miki forgiving his executioners, praying for them, and preaching about Jesus even as he was brutally killed. Surely his heart was moved with pity for others, much like Jesus’ pity for the crowds following him and the apostles. Both Jesus and St. Paul Miki saw the spiritual poverty and earnest seeking among those drawn to them. Both upset the established status quo of their respective cultures. Both were compassionate and genuine in sharing the truth with love.
Who are the “sheep without a shepherd” in our communities today? When I strive to live out my faith, do I witness with joy and empathy? Is my heart compassionate like the heart of Christ, and moved with pity for the forgotten or marginalized?
—Maggie Melchior is a convert to the Catholic faith. She currently serves as Coordinator of New Evangelization and Faith Formation for a parish in the Diocese of Green Bay.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
—from the Canticle of Zechariah, recited by St. Paul Miki and companions just before their executionPlease share the Good Word with your friends!