A scholarly attempt at an interpretation of Sunday's liturgical readings.

If you are famous, most likely you have a huge following.  What makes a person famous?  Most likely it is something one says or does that captures people’s attention.  The annual distribution of the Oscars, with its millions of fans, tells us that the movie people are famous.

When you stop to think about it, Jesus was also famous.  But he didn’t have mass media to “spread the word” about him , he had only the word of mouth.  In fact, in the Gospel for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mk. 6:30-34) we read that  “People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mk. 6:31)  People were coming primarily to hear him preach.

Jesus was aware of their presence, especially of their secondary motive which was that they were hungry.  The Gospel text tells us that “…his heart was moved with pity for them…” (Mk. 6:34)  Another translation says that Jesus was “compassionate.”

The Greek equivalent of “moved with pity” indicates that the emotions are involved.  The heart becomes the primary motivator.  Because of this, it is the emotional response that becomes much stronger than the physical response alone thus making the response more powerful.

It is important to take into account the fact that Jesus’ emotional/physical response of “compassion” includes both the spiritual and physical elements.  The spiritual elements had to do with the words that Jesus spoke.  This is why the people came to listen to him.  The physical response of Jesus’ compassion had to do with the feeding of the five thousand.  That event follows the day’s Gospel.  (Mk. 6:35-44)

So, what should famous people do?  First of all, I think that all baptized persons are famous for having been incorporated into God’s family, and for having the Holy Spirit help us provide the motivation for dealing responsibly with other people. We choose to be of service.

Secondly, I think that compassion should be the basis for our relationship with others.  Why?  Because our interaction can be not only “Affective,” but  “Effective”  as well, thus making our response total (inside and outside), and quite likely genuine.   Having compassion would most likely give us the root meaning  of “suffering with” (Latin: cum=with; passio=suffering).  When people suffer, we suffer with them.

In the above Gospel,  Jesus’ fame preceded him which made many people come to hear him preach. He also displayed a sense of compassion which meant that he was very conscious of their hunger, and wanted to do something about it.  So he performed a miracle and fed them.

We are all famous because of our Baptism, and consequently have the responsibility to care for others.  We preach to them what Jesus preached to us, namely, justice, understanding, compassion, forgiveness and the like.

In addition to these moral principles, we should also do our best to have compassion on others, namely, suffer when they suffer.  This means being totally involved in being of service to others.  Do what we can.  Consequently, if we want to become famous and maintain that fame, we respond to the needs of others by sharing with them the message of Jesus and allow our sense of compassion to tell us what we can and should do to others.  Preaching the message of Jesus to others and responding compassionately to their physical needs are what famous people should do.




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