July 17, 2021
Do you remember Grants department store? When I was around ten years old, my brother John and I would go there. We would always stop and look at the tropical fish. All those aquariums and the fish swimming around in their own little world. They were so neat! They were only fifty cents or so and we wanted to get some. The problem was, we needed an aquarium. We began saving our money. One day, a ten gallon aquarium was on sale for five dollars and we bought it. We bought some guppies, little fish, and set the aquarium up. It was magnificent! It wasn't long before we heard a little splash and found one of our guppies outside the aquarium on the table. He had jumped! We realized that we would have to get what they call a "hood" that is a lid for the aquarium. It had a light on it. But those cost twenty dollars! We sure did not have that kind of money. This was a real problem. I remember praying that we could somehow get one. Maybe they would go on sale for five dollars. Or maybe someone we know would be getting rid of theirs and would give it to us. But we did not know many people who had fish. The days passed and no hood became available.
Growing more concerned, prayers continued. Then, one day, in the back room of our house, I spotted a piece of masonite board that had been part of a broken toy table. It was big enough. In the same room there was an old Micky Mouse night light. Mikey had broken off years ago, and the base with the light in it was all that was left. I removed the broken plastic that was once Mickey, and turned it upside down. There was an on/off switch on the side. Cutting a hole in the masonite board allowed the small light box to be fastened to it. Placed on top of the aquarium, it worked! No more fish jumping out of the tank! And the light made the fish look so much better. I remember thinking that it was awfully good of God to put those two pieces of broken toys in the same room so they could become the aquarium hood that I had prayed for!
In our Gospel this weekend we learn that no matter how big or small our need, "Jesus' heart is moved with pity" for us. We just heard it in the Gospel and again in the answered prayer a ten year old. Jesus hears us and responds by pouring himself out to help us, no matter what.
Our Gospel tells us that the people, having learned that Jesus had an extremely good message, really wanted to hear it. Jesus loved his work of teaching, but he and his apostles were tired after a long day's work. They decide to take a boat to a different shore to be alone for a bit and rest. But when they get there, the people had figured out where he would go and arrived there ahead of him! Even though tired, Jesus sees their great need; "for they were like sheep without a shepherd." We are told that Jesus' "heart was moved with pity for them." Jesus acted on his heart, gave up on taking a break, and began teaching right away.
Isn't it wonderful to know that when our lives become difficult and we turn to Jesus for help, he is not only moved with pity for us, but immediately comes to provide what we need? Our prayer may not be answered in the way we expect, and we may never know how it was answered. But we know for certain that Jesus stands with us, out of pity and immense love.
Fifty-five years ago, God took pity on a ten-year-old concerned about guppies jumping out of an aquarium. That provided great comfort during those day's growing up in a house of ten. It has throughout my life. May Jesus' message that he will do whatever it takes to meet our needs, provide us all with the same comfort.