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Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 9:35-38.

The Compassion of Jesus – Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

The activities of Jesus’ ministry are teaching, proclaiming the gospel, and healing.

  • Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.a Accompanying him were the Twelve (Luke 8:1)

Matthew usually designates the Jewish synagogues as “their synagogue(s)

  • He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
  • Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. (Matthew 9:35)
  • But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, (Matthew 10:17)
  • Moving on from there, he went into their synagogue. (Matthew 12:9)
  • He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?” (Matthew 13:54)

or, in address to Jews, your synagogues

  • Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, (Matthew 23:34)

an indication that he wrote his gospel after the break between church and synagogue.

The following verse in Matthew

  • Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. (Matthew 9:35)

is an almost exact repetition of

  • He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)

Both these verses speaks of Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and healing.

Teaching and preaching form the content of Matthew 5–7; the healing, that of Matthew 8–9.

Some scholars speak of a portrayal of Jesus as “Messiah of the Word” in Matthew 5–7 and “Messiah of the Deed” in Matthew 8–9.

Everywhere Jesus went crowds followed him. Jesus moved with pity toward this people of the new exodus satisfies their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things, thus gradually showing himself the faithful shepherd of a new Israel. The following verses show the compassion Jesus had for these people:

  • At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
  • When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:34)
  • who will be their leader in battle and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the LORD’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd.” (Numbers 27:17)
  • So Micaiah said: “I see all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd, And the LORD saying, These have no master! Let each of them go back home in peace.” (1 Kings 22:17)

This Q saying

  • Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)

found in Luke also

  • He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. (Luke 10:2)

is only imperfectly related to this context. It presupposes that only God (the master of the harvest) can take the initiative in sending out preachers of the gospel, whereas in Matthew’s setting it leads into Matthew 10 where Jesus does so.

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