REFLECTION FOR THE THIRTY-SECONDTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C), Week beginning 6TH NOVEMBER 2022
“The Crowd” were a very prominent feature each day during the 3 years of Jesus’ public ministry. They were so impressed by His undeniable aura, and they never tired of listening to Him. For His part, Jesus was always concerned for their welfare e.g., taking pity on them if He saw them looking hungry, having been much of the day in His presence.
What of the significance of ‘the crowd’ in our times? Crowds can influence how people will behave – some will be buoyed up or carried along in the general noise; others will perhaps clam up and be rather ill-at-ease. Recently, there have been at least 2 world tragedies involving crowds: in Seoul (South Korea) about 154 people lost their lives as a vast crowd, out to celebrate Halloween, made their way towards a very narrow passage. In Gujarat in India, a similar number lost their lives on an apparently repaired swing bridge over a river. 2 absolute tragedies, undeniably!
One senses an inherent difference between ‘The Crowd’ in the Gospels, and the excessive crowds of our times. ‘The Crowd’ that were drawn to Jesus were in no doubt as to why they had amassed themselves – they loved to hear Him, to learn from Him, to have Him heal their sick and infirm. Their number was much more finite e.g., in Jesus’ 2 recorded feeding miracles – about 5,000 and approximately 4,000 respectively, and all in very open space.
The crowds of the 2 recent world tragedies would appear to have had no such established objective in mind. In Seoul, what was really being celebrated on Halloween? In Gujarat, what exactly was the draw to try out a swing bridge already so overcrowded?
In the past 3 years or so, excessively crowded gatherings have fuelled the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., pop festivals & sporting events).
Often in daily life, we will be much safer in our own space, unafraid to be alone with our God.