The crowds are too much. There are too many people looking for Jesus and His apostles; they want to be healed; they want to be exorcised from demons, they want miracles. The Gospel of Mark reports that people were “coming and going” in great numbers. They come to get what they want from Jesus, and they leave after they had gotten what they wanted.
People sometimes have this “come and go” attitude towards God. We come to God when we want something from God, and we go away if we don’t. Our relationship with God has become focused on getting relief and release from our problems; nothing more.
The Gospel of Mark tells us that when Jesus saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them. But Jesus had compassion on them not only because of their illnesses, woes and pains, but more so because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Therefore, Jesus will shepherd the people, and He began to teach them many things.
What did Jesus teach them? We can be certain that Jesus taught them that “the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15)
Jesus did not respond in the way the crowds were expecting. Instead of giving them what they wanted right away, Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God and to believe in the Gospel. Jesus knew that it is far better for the people to have faith, rather than giving them what they wanted. In the same way, Jesus doesn’t respond to our prayers by giving us what we want right away. Instead, Jesus teaches us first to believe in Him, because having faith is far better than getting what we want right away.
Many people pray to God wanting a magic cure for their illness or a magic bullet for their problems. But that is not what faith is all about. Faith is about repentance and forgiveness, reconciliation and communion, acceptance and trust in God.
St. Paul tells us of his acceptance and trust in God: “I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ; for when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Our relationship with God should not be based on getting what we want, but on a kind of faith that enables us to trust in God, and to find peace in our hearts amidst the challenges and difficulties we face in life.