Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full. (Matthew 15:29-37)
Today’s Gospel is one of the most memorable passages in sacred scripture. We have all heard and read it countless times. As I reflected on this scripture, time and again, I was drawn back to one word: “love.” Because love drove every element of this beautiful narrative and its message should teach us about the love that we are expected to use every day.
Let’s look at the crowd. They were a mix of the mute, the deaf and the ill; the lost and insane and ordinary citizens. They were carried and lifted up a steep hillside by so many people. People cared enough about them to make the effort to see this wonderous rabbi: Jesus Christ. The love of others helped to get them there.
Today, we see the same crowds. People feeling abandoned, depressed, physically and emotionally maimed. And not enough of us reach out in the type of love that Jesus expects of us. It’s not enough to give a few dollars, it’s not enough to visit an orphanage a couple of times a year, it’s not enough to help foster a helpful program. Are those good and necessary. Absolutely! But how soiled are our hands? How much are we really vested? How much do we feel the pain of those cut off?
Jesus did. Jesus knew each of their needs and, through his love, not only were they physically fed but they encountered, head on, the enormous love that the Son of God had for them.
And for you and me.
For you and me. The Lord of Life and Love knows our needs. He knows the deeper recesses of our mind. He waits for us to reach out but many of us don’t see the need. Many of us are content in whatever corner of the world we have carved out. Maybe we feel content about who and what we are. We pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. But He knows what healing we need. Each of us is in need of healing. It may be physical or emotional. He is there. He awaits. We need to be open to Him and let and let his love surround us so that, refreshed, we can love Him by living Him.
Living Him means that we are expected to show up each day with charity – to bring others to His healing and transformation. We are asked to carry that stretcher up a hillside, to guide the blind who do not see Jesus Christ in their life, to touch the maimed with our love and let them know they matter. When his compassion and caring are freely and openly given in love of Him, we are opened to a new horizon and a glimpse of what lies ahead in our eternal life. That love exhibited in our life is what the path that leads to the eternal wedding banquet looks like.
We need to meet Jesus on that path of love for others. If we don’t, we may miss Him as he passes by.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts. May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.”
Love is not always very practical or convenient. Jesus’ heart is moved with compassion for all those who have sought him out. He knows the sacrifices that they have made in searching him out, and he is not going to leave them disappointed. The disciples saw only the practical problem, but in his charity towards his neighbor, Jesus all but ignores it. What can I learn from Christ’s attitude? Will I ever be let down or not be satisfied if I seek Christ with a sincere heart?