Unexpected Answers

“You give them something to eat…” (Mark 6:37)

Our scarcity can give way to abundance in Christ. Despair in our immediate situation can give way to hope in Christ. Our confusion can give way to new direction in Christ.

Jesus seeks to lead his disciples to a place of retreat and rest, but a great crowd follows them to a deserted location. Instead of responding with annoyance and frustration, Jesus has compassion for the crowd, because they are like sheep without a shepherd, and he teaches them many things. But the day grows late, and there is not enough food or money to provide for all the people. The disciples urge Jesus to send the people away. But Jesus takes what they have — five loaves and two fish — to share with everyone present. As in the Last Supper and in the Eucharist we celebrate, the bread is blessed, broken, and distributed. Instead of the scarcity that the disciples fear, the gifts shared by Jesus provide an abundance of food for everyone.

In Bonaventure’s Life of Francis, a group of knights were carrying St. Francis back to Assisi when he was ill. They came to a poor village when it was time to eat, but they were unable to buy anything and came back empty handed. Then St. Francis urged them to return to the houses they visited and ask for alms, offering divine love instead of cash. The poor villagers then responded generously, sharing their food and their hearts. The knights received in abundance when they asked in love and humility. Sharing God’s love through others provided much more than the meal they needed. They got more than they asked for when they asked in faith.

We can fall into a problem-solving approach to life. How can we meet our needs, how can we maximize our gains, how can we get what we want? From this perspective, there will never be enough; our resources will not add up to a total that satisfies us. But it is possible to address our needs while looking beyond them. Jesus did not tell the people their concerns were silly or suggest they should go hungry. He had compassion for the people who followed him. But the answer to the question about food went beyond dietetics or economics. They couldn’t solve the problem on their own.

As with Francis, the human need could be filled only by the humble sharing of faith. When they opened their hearts as well as their hands, they found more than enough. They shared in abundance.

Look it Up

Find a phrase that expresses how you may relate the Eucharist to generous Christian living on a daily basis. See the hymns for the Eucharist (300-347) in The Hymnal 1982.

Think About It

Our own needs may suggest ways to help others. Our hunger may remind us to feed people who are hungry. Our need for money may remind us to help people who are poor. Our loneliness may remind us that others feel isolated and alone. What do you need? How can you help?


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