December 5, 2018, Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

“Pity” is the word that stands out in today’s Gospel, when great crowds follow Jesus and he says of them, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.”

This word for “pity” (splagchnizomai) refers to a person’s internal organs, especially when those inward parts are moved by an emotional experience. Have you ever felt broken hearted? Have you ever experienced a gut-wrenching feeling? You know your heart wasn’t actually broken and your guts weren’t physically wrenched. But they certainly felt that way. The pity that Jesus experiences for this crowd is a physical reaction, going on deep down inside our Lord; but it’s also a spiritual action, since this word for “pity” is directly related to “the tender [splagchnon] mercy of our God” in Luke 1:78. Jesus’s pity that sparks the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is a gut-tugging compassion that is the image of the invisible God’s tender mercy for all of us.

As we begin this season of Advent, let us continually pray that God will have the same gut-wrenching pity, that same tender mercy upon us when he comes again.