Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand in Mt 4:13-21 gives us an insight into how He responds to human helplessness, those moments when we feel overwhelmed by our personal and societal circumstances.

Firstly, by His humanity, Jesus indeed freely chose to experience and share in our helplessness. He “withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself” after He heard of the brutal beheading of His beloved precursor, St. John the Baptist. We can only imagine the sorrow in His heart even though He could easily have prevented the capture and murder of St. John. It is the same sorrow that He had at the death of His beloved friend Lazarus in Lk 11:1-44 when He could have come earlier and prevented his death.

In His humanity, He feels the pain of the crowd that sought Him, “following Him on foot from their towns.” Though they had intruded on His planned solitude, “His heart was moved with pity for them and He cured their sick.” In His humanity, He welcomes us in our helplessness and He always looks at us with pity and compassion. Indeed, “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”(Ps 103:14)

Secondly, in His divinity He asks them to come to Him, bringing with them all that makes them feel helpless, “Bring them here to me.” The disciples had earlier sensed their helplessness in the face of the mammoth crowd before them and they wanted Him to deliver them from this helpless situation, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus does not remove the cause of this helplessness.

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