Harassed and Helpless

By Elizabeth Baumann

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 9:35-10:4

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”

1 Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.


As I write this, it’s our first week of school. It is a BUSY season. We’re scrambling to find time for all the parts of our lives. Luckily, I recently read some invaluable advice: God only calls you to do what you have time for. I can go to bed at night amidst all the unfinished things because I know there’s grace; that all that matters is love; and when I forget that, or don’t know how to do it, or plain fail at it, there’s forgiveness, and grace again.

I can only imagine the harassment and helplessness that must be experienced by those who don’t know a God who gives them grace, forgives them, and calls them to nothing but love. How do they make priorities? No wonder so many moms feel they have to make sure their child does everything! No wonder so many people struggle to say “no.” If Jesus saw the harassed and helpless crowds of his day and felt compassion, imagine how much worse it’s gotten now that the crowds have electric light to keep them up at all hours and phones in their pockets constantly summoning their attention.

Let’s take a hint from Jesus and have compassion — first for ourselves, acknowledging that we live in a lot of unnatural and difficult circumstances — and then for others, especially those who despair because they don’t know any other way.

Then notice what Jesus does about it: he calls the Twelve and he gives them power, and he sends them out. Nor has he stopped: he calls his Church, he bestows power on it and its members, and he sends us out. May our homes and may our churches be those very places where he calls us to himself and empowers us, that we may be lights of hope in a harassed and helpless world.

Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of George (Anglican Church of Southern Africa)
Jerusalem Peacebuilders, West Brattleboro, Vt.


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