Like most people who read the Gospels, I have a few favourite verses. My all-time favourite regarding ministry comes up in today’s Gospel reading: When he went ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them. That’s Matthew’s version.

In Mark’s Gospel, we also hear that Jesus’ compassion is because they were like sheep without a shepherd. The account is immediately preceded by the beheading of John the Baptist.

What always strikes me is the fact that Herod, who admires John, agrees to the beheading of John, in order to keep his word to his guests. I usually offer Mark 6:14-44 to people making the Spiritual Exercises and praying with the famous Ignatian exercise of the Two Standards.

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