Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bread Offered, Broken, and Shared

You yourselves give them food to eat!
Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The disciples were concerned that it was getting late and they were in a deserted place. The vast crowd that came to listen to Jesus had to be fed. And so they proposed to the Lord that the crowd be dismissed so that they may buy food for themselves from the nearby villages. They must have been surprised that the Lord should tell them: “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” How could they provide food for all when they had nothing but five loaves and 2 fish? It definitely was not enough for them, but not for the Lord. He told them to bring to him what they had. Receiving the seemingly meager offering, the Lord Jesus blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples for distribution to the hungry crowds. The crowd ate until they were satisfied with leftovers that filled 12 wicker baskets.

What seemed a meager offering was enough for the Lord to feed all who were present. How the Lord multiplied the limited supply we will never know. But one thing we know is this, that the offering, no matter how meager it may be, had to be made. This is the greatness of the Lord: no offering is so poor that it cannot be worthy of him. We might hesitate that what we can afford to give might not suffice or might not be good enough. But the Lord tells us: “Bring them here to me.” He takes what we offer. he accepts our humble gifts of bread and wine. He blesses them and transforms them into his own body and blood. He makes our offering his own. He breaks his offering: His body he gives up. His blood he pours out. Then he gives us back what is offered so that in consuming this heavenly food, we might share in his divine life and be transformed into his likeness, the likeness of his compassionate and generous heart.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “Each celebration of the Eucharist makes sacramentally present the gift that the crucified Lord made of his life, for us and for the whole world. In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God's compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. The eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbour, which ‘consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, affecting even my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ.’ (Deus Caritas Est, 232.) In all those I meet, I recognize brothers or sisters for whom the Lord gave his life, loving them ‘to the end’ (Jn 13:1). Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become ‘bread that is broken’ for others, and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world. Keeping in mind the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, we need to realize that Christ continues today to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged: ‘You yourselves, give them something to eat’ (Mt 14:16). Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world.” (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, 88.)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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