He withdrew… to a deserted place


Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, had John the Baptist imprisoned and later beheaded at the instigation of Herodias who sent her daughter to dance for Herod and his guests — something below the dignity of a royal princess (Mt 14:3-12). But nothing is beyond the hatred of a woman “scorned” (Herodias wanted to kill John for condemning her and Herod’s unlawful marriage). When Jesus hears of the death of John, he withdraws by himself to a deserted place — to mourn the fate of the brave precursor, but also to weigh the cost of his own faithfulness to God. Suffering and persecution are the lot of the genuine messengers and prophets of God. Still, neither acclaim nor threat of persecution hinders Jesus from moving on: a vast crowd of hungry and sick people awaits him and he ministers to them.


When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—12 wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about 5,000 men, not counting women and children.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.