First Sunday After Trinity Reflection

Jesus saw the crowds and he had compassion for them

Matthew 9:35-38

By Bishop Sarah Please Share Widely

First Sunday After Trinity Reflection


‘When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’  Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few, therefore ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ (Mt: 9:35-38)

I wonder what we would have seen when we noticed this crowd of people searching for Jesus in their need? I wonder what we see as we look at the protestors, the statute topplers of today.

When Jesus sees the crowds it isn’t a simply noticing them, he sees them – sees their need, their state of heart, their vulnerability because no-one was looking out for them. Sheep without shepherds in Jesus’ day were on their way to being in a wolfs belly, or down the bottom of the nearest ravine. It is of course an implicit criticism of the religious and political leaders of his day because they were failing at their job of shepherding all God’s people.   Shepherdless sheep – figuratively or literally – always means someone is not doing their job properly.

Jesus saw them – when I was learning to pray , one helpful piece of teaching was to prepare by becoming still and acknowledging for a few heart beats that Jesus gazed on me, and that  was a gaze of compassion and love, he saw me – not always a comforting thought. Oddly that has been perhaps the hardest lesson to learn, the loving gaze of Jesus, yet transforming in the quality of our time together.

Jesus gazes on the crowd and he sees not those who are judged by the movers and shakers of society as not being of much worth – instead he what he sees gets him in his guts, a visceral reaction of a deep compassion that drives action – it is this that will costs Jesus his very life – it is in this moment that he turns to his friends and sends them out into the harvest fields of humanity, to bring the life that is at the heart of mission.

Learning that Jesus gazes on me with love has been transforming for me, it has also raised a mirror for me to look in and see my own gaze upon myself and even more importantly on the people I meet and I know what I see or don’t see, how I judge a person in a split second, shapes my action. The Black Lives Matters movement is rooted in the death of George Floyd, when a police officer gazed on him and saw someone of no worth, based on his colour, so much so his life was deemed worthless.  The statute topplers see a lauding of people who in their day saw people of colour as less human then themselves and so became the wolves that preyed on them.

Jesus gazes on you with love this day, his heart is filled with compassion, he sends you his friends out in mission rooted in this compassion. The invitation is to notice how you look upon yourself and what you see when you look on the people you meet, what is going on inside you.

Jesus saw the crowds and he had compassion!

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