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August 1

FOCUS:    God gives in abundance.

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Reflection

00:00 / 03:49

JER 28:1-17

PS 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102

MT 14:13-21

 

He looked up to heaven, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to the disciples… sound familiar?

 

In the gospel reading, we have this beautiful foreshadowing of the Last Supper and the Institution of the Eucharist. Jesus is the host, as the messianic banquet awaits.

 

Our reflection could lead us in different directions, today, but taken together, Jesus’ compassion for the sick and the miracle of the loaves and fish, we see Jesus offering himself in body and spirit, for the sake of the bodies and spirits of the people.

 

Jesus wanted to be alone after he heard about the death of John the Baptist. He went to a deserted place, but his peace was interrupted when he was surrounded by people who sought him out, and he had great pity for them, and cured the sick. Evening came. The disciples asked him to send the crowds away to get food for themselves, but Jesus took five loaves and two fish and many more than 5,000 were fed.

 

Jesus drew strength from his time alone. Even when it was cut short, he found the time and had the compassion that was called for, in the moment, to care for those placed before him. Not only that, but as the night drew in, instead of sending the crowds home, he fed them.

 

How often do we try to pray, add a novena, or set time apart for spiritual gain, when life gets in the way, and we are called to attend to other things? How do we react to this? In a homily once, it was suggested that when God finds a compassionate heart, he sends people to them. Failing to respond to the needs of others when inconvenient, in the pursuit of religiosity, cannot be pleasing to God. Certainly, he wants us to pray and to spend time with him, but he also wants us to feed the hungry, and care for others.

 

In The Legend Beautiful, a classic poem by Longfellow, we hear the story of a monk to whom the Lord appears, in his cell. The monk really wants to remain in the splendor of the vision before him, but he is torn, as the convent bell tolls, calling him to attend to his duty of feeding the poor at the gate; he wonders if Jesus will still be there, upon his return. If you are not familiar with this poem, I highly recommend it.

 

It seems that when we attend to others in a spontaneous and generous manner, that our time expands, our own needs diminish; give a little to God, he will bless it and it will be multiplied!

In this miracle moment, the disciples distributed the food blessed by Jesus, and ministered to the people, in this, we get a glimpse the ministry of the Church today. As then, Jesus offers himself and nourishes us, in the form of bread, every day. We bring our needs before him and he is present to us, whenever we need him. We are called to receive the body of Christ so that we can be the body of Christ, for the body of the Christ. Like Jesus, we must be ever ready to be broken and poured out.