The WORD in Other Words by Fr Dante Barril SVD (Philippines)
Monday Week 18 Ordinary Time, Nm 11:4b-15, Mt 14:13-21
It may come as a shock that the Greek word for “pity,” (splagehnizomai) used to describe Jesus‘ feelings at the sight of the vast crowd who followed him, shares the same root with “womb.” We can hear people jokingly say that men do not have “matres” (womb) and yet in the Gospel, we have Jesus, the man par excellence, feeling “womb—y.” And it is important to note that this is not an isolated case. In another instance (Mt 23,37; Lk 13,34) Jesus would liken his longing for the people to that of a mother hen for her brood.
Jesus was tough though. A probinsiyano arriving in the capital, kicking tables and whipping people couldn‘t be soft. But he had a “soft” side which the Gospel beautifully captures in the word splagchnizomai (feeling “womb—y”).
The church celebrates today the memorial of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, a church dedicated to Mary the mother of God, the Zheotokos (God— bearer). This memorial reminds us how a God whom the ancients generally viewed as omnipotent, a Being beyond pain and sadness and even pity was humanized in the womb of a woman. — He who was almighty and all—powerful felt humanity‘s pain and vulnerability so perfectly that the Gospel today would even say that He felt “womb—y” for the people who longed for Him.
Jesus was gentle and tender. Thanks to His mother, whose intercession we implore that the world may be a little less colder and be a bit warmer and cozier like the womb of a mother.