How have I lived out last week’s Gospel message? … What was tough? … What was rewarding?
If you are hungry, come to feast on the bread of life. If you are thirsty, come to drink the water of life. If you are weary, come to enjoy God’s refreshing rest. Come to enjoy the feast that God provides for us.
Jesus said, “Bring them here”. Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the people. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.
Like the small boy that had only five loaves and two fish to offer, our gifts might not seem like much, but when we generously share, God can make a miracle out of them. What gifts do you have to offer? There are other hungers that you can feed, and you can offer your table, your companionship, or your expertise with someone in need. Plan to take at least one concrete action this week.
For the last few weeks we have encountered Jesus’ parables in the Sunday Gospel accounts. Today, though, we hear perhaps the most known of all Jesus’ miracles – the feeding of the five thousand. This miracle shows the great power of God, living and active in the world. The impossible becomes possible, and thousands of people are fed by the hand of the Lord.
Note, however, how Jesus responds when the disciples tell Jesus to dismiss the crowds. Worried that people were getting hungry, the disciples thought the best course of action would be to tell everyone to go home and eat. This was not an unreasonable idea, as there were thousands of people and just a few loaves of bread and fish to go around. The disciples must have been shocked when they heard Jesus respond, “Give them some food yourselves” (Matthew 14: 16).
Jesus’ instruction to the disciples that day is an important command for all of us. When we see a need, we must work to meet the need. While it might be easier to ignore, or even push the responsibility to someone else, Jesus’ response is clear. If you encounter someone who is hungry, give that person some food. If you encounter someone who is naked, give that person clothes to wear. If you encounter someone who is sad, offer them love and encouragement. Jesus reminds us that we have the power and responsibility to serve others.
Today’s Gospel is filled with Eucharistic imagery. Jesus feeds the crowds, just as Christ feeds us with his Body and Blood. However, we must also remember that a central aspect of Eucharist is being Christ for others. In the words of Saint Augustine, we are called to become what we receive. Take some time after you receive Christ in the Eucharist to ask him how he is calling you to serve others. In what ways does Christ call you to go and feed them yourself?
You Have Enough: Share It!
I often see it in their eyes when I encourage young people to make the world better in Christ’s name. I see a lack of confidence, a look saying, “I have nothing to give. I’m not special in that way”.
I felt that way for many years as a young bloke. I lacked confidence and struggled with self-doubt. I thought I had very little to offer other people or the world’s problems. And that didn’t feel good. I know young people who feel that way – and many do – spend a lot of time sad.
But each person is a gift from God to the world, with some talent the world needs. Sometimes it just takes a little time to discover that talent.
This week’s Gospel is good for young people lacking confidence. Jesus faces a hungry crowd. The disciples don’t think they can help. Things change, though, when they give their food to Jesus. It feeds thousands.
That’s a lesson for us. Our cupboards are full. Each of us has “food” to offer the world, though sometimes we don’t realise it. I know many young people who are shocked by the difference they make by leading youth groups, volunteering, or just listening to friends who need help.
It’s only when you start reaching out to help that you’ll realise how much “food” you have to offer our world, which is hungry for peace, forgiveness, and compassion. You will gain more and more confidence. I did.
List your talents. If that is hard to do, ask a friend or teacher for help. Pray for help too. Jesus sees more talent in you than you realise. Offer him your “loaves and fish” and then watch him work a miracle.
If a word or phrase from the Gospel grabs your heart, sit quietly for a moment, repeating it to yourself and asking God to show you how it applies to your life. Reflect and possibly journal on the following question:
GRATEFUL (Tom Tomaszek) (from Spirit & Song collection)
© 2003, 2008, Thomas N. Tomaszek. Published by Spirit & Song, a division of OCP. All rights reserved. Used with permission.