18 Sunday of OT year A:
Today we hear about one of Jesus’ great miracles. Today we hear that Jesus took some bread and fish and was able to feed a huge crowd of people. Jesus took simple elements and fed a multitude. Of course this was not just one event that took place a long time ago, it is something that Christ has continued to do down through the ages. Right now he is doing it. This is what the Mass is all about. During our worship of God at this Holy Mass, Jesus feeds us. He gives himself to us in the Word of God with the Scriptures, he gives himself to us in his Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist. All those years ago he fed the 5000, but today he is feeding millions throughout the world with the Word and the Eucharist. So, this story is our story. That is why I find the circumstances so interesting.
It says that the people had followed Jesus to a deserted place. I find this to be quite fascinating and beautiful. Is it so different for us? We have heard the voice of Christ, we are following him. But, we realize he does not always lead us down paths that are easy. The road that Christians walk is filled with suffering, self-denial, and persecution. How can it be otherwise? To be a Christian means to follow Christ, to be like Christ. The same Christ who died on the cross for the salvation of the world asks us to bear our crosses in his name. Sometimes this feels like we are in deserted place. Maybe we feel isolated or disenchanted with the world around us, maybe we fear violence, terrorism, and war, all of which seem to be more and more prevalent in our days. Yes, it feels like a deserted place sometimes.
Jesus is not unaware of our difficulties. It says in the gospel that when Jesus saw the people, his heart was moved with pity for them. His heart is still moved with pity for all those who suffer, all those who fear, all those who struggle, who suffer, those who are persecuted. Jesus is still moved with pity and he still wants to feed us. Christ feeds us here at the Holy Mass. Don’t be afraid to bring your difficulties, your pains, your sufferings. Bring your ups, your downs, your whole life. Here at the Mass we join them to the sacrifice of Christ and we find that strength we need for living our lives of faith. Even if it feels like we are in the deserted place from time to time, Christ is here, his heart is moved with pity, he wants to feed us.
But, I find another aspect of this passage quite interesting as well. While we know that Christ is the one who feeds all the people, he is not the one who actually gives the food to the people. Notice, Jesus took the bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it, not to the people, but to the disciples. It was the disciples that passed out the bread and fish to the people. Again, is it so different with us? As I mentioned earlier, Christ feeds us here at the Holy Mass, he tends to our needs, even if we feel like we are in a deserted place. But, once we have received such an amazing gift, how do we respond? Do we find ways to share this gift with others?
I bet that some day this week every one of us will find one person who is hurting or afraid. We will find one person who is lost or hungry, one person who is in a deserted place. Maybe this person will be hungry in a physical way, or maybe hungry in a spiritual way. The words of Jesus to his disciples are the same words he speaks to us today: you give them something to eat. My friends we are gathered here at Mass to hear the Word of God and to be in his presence in the Eucharist. We are here to be fed. But having received, we are then called by Christ go forth from this Mass and to find those others who are hungry in this world so that we can give them something to eat.