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Friday, April 12, 2013

Hungry for the Needs of Others

By Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene

The Gospel (Jn 6:1-15, “five loaves and two fish”) answers the question by the narrative of the multiplication of the loaves, the great miracle by which Jesus meant to prepare the people for the announcement of a much more startling miracle, the institution of the Holy Eucharist, in which He, the Master, would become our Bread, the "living Bread which came down from Heaven" (ibid 6:41) to nourish our souls. This is the cause of our joy, the source of our delight. Jesus is the Bread of life, always at our disposal to appease our hunger.

Although Jesus appreciates spiritual values much better than we, He does not forget or despise the material necessities of life. Today’s Gospel shows Him surrounded by the crowd which had followed Him to hear His teachings. Jesus thinks of their hunger, and to provide for it, performs one of His most outstanding miracles. With His blessing, five loaves of bread and two fishes suffice to feed five thousand people, with twelve basketfuls left over.

Jesus knows that when a person is tormented by hunger or material needs, he is unable to apply himself to the things of the spirit. Charity likewise requires of us this understanding of the bodily necessities of others, a practical understanding which translates itself into effective action. "If a brother or sister be naked and want daily food, and one of you say to them, ‘Go in peace’ . . . yet give them not these things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?" (Jas 2:15-16).

The Apostles had suggested to the Master that He dismiss the crowd "that they buy themselves food and drink" (Mt 14:15). Jesus did not agree but provided for them Himself. We, too, must strive, as far as we are able, to show ourselves considerate for the needs of others . . .

The Apostles tell Jesus that a young boy has five loaves and two fishes, that this is very little, in fact, nothing at all for feeding five thousand men. But the Lord asks for this nothing and uses it to accomplish a great miracle. It is always thus: the all-powerful God, who can do everything and create from nothing, when dealing with His free creatures, will not act without their help. Man can do but very little; yet God wants, asks for, and requires this little as a condition of His intervention. Only the Lord can make us saints, as only He could multiply the small supplies of the young boy; still he asks for our help. Like the boy in the Gospel, we too must give Him everything in our power; we must offer Him each day our good resolutions, renewed faithfully and lovingly, and He will bring about a great miracle for us also, the miracle of our sanctification.
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