Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

This short respite comes right after the story of John the Baptist being beheaded. The disciples pull away to a private place and rest and then when they arrive at Geneserret they are able to heal and deal with the crowds again. In Mark the crowds are always following, hounding after Jesus. They want what he has to give and its not because its a free giveaway. Its because of this little word found here in verse 34, compassion. He sees the crowds as he comes ashore and doesn't say, "Here they are again, can't you come back another time?" or "What do you need now, can't you stop hounding me?" Instead he sees all that stretch out before him and has compassion.

This is in direct opposition to Herod's power, based on fear, jealousy and holding your position and silencing the opposition. God's kingdom the one Jesus comes to show us is a kingdom based in the vulnerability of having compassion on others. We face this choice everyday in our walk. Do we choose compassion or do we choose fear?

These last few months, weeks even give us this choice in reality. We see it every time there is a headline for another shooting. The stories featured always show an element of compassion. Whether it is in forgiveness to the shooter or someone laying down their life for others there is a spot of compassion. This time of being vulnerable towards another and not hard hearted or judgmental.

Compassion moves us closer to someone else and opens us to their suffering. When Jesus has compassion on the crowd he sits down and teaches them because the text tells us they were lost. The thing we leave out of this story this morning is that he also feeds them. This is the story of the five thousand being fed. Jesus has compassion for their journey, for their seeking him out, for their want of finding something of value in this world.

We have the choice to show compassion in our lives to others. To open ourselves to others and let love heal. When we have compassion we see beyond the headlines and see those who are hurting and in pain. In the Forgiveness Challenge there were stories of forgiveness that were shared. One of a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver and had compassion on him. Gave forgiveness, heard his own story and worked together to heal from this horrible day. He stays inspired because of the free gift of forgiveness given to him. A compassion from the mom about his own story of loss. Together they have been able to work through all the loss they both have dealt with and the mom feels she has gained a son. Not a replacement, but a way forward for healing.

Compassion can work that way for us if we let it. If we open ourselves up to truly listening to another's story, if we open ourselves up to being vulnerable, if we can out ourselves into someone else's shoes we can have compassion. It is our choice. What will yours be?