Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21)
To fully appreciate this scripture, we should be mindful of what Matthew wrote about immediately prior to this event: the violent and heinous murder of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch.
Upon hearing the news, Jesus retires to a quiet place to process the death of his cousin.
We have all been in this scene in different ways. Perhaps we found ourselves overcome with grief over the passing on someone we loved deeply. Or perhaps our grief has been engendered by a debilitating illness. Or perhaps our grief comes from a storm of pessimistic, inner thoughts and anxieties that never seem to leave us.
Some are numbed by the grief. Others make a firm resolve to move beyond it after the tears. And then there are others who, for the moment, decide that they must use the moment to help others.
I well remember a parish in Panama that I was blessed to serve. There were three women who, independently, decided that they would use the death of one of the children to help others move through their grief.
As with Jesus in this gospel, they reached inside and drew on an inner strength to reach out to help others.
I use the phrase “as with Jesus,” because that is who they were in these moments of outreach and tenderness. They displayed his love, his tenderness, his compassion, his tenderness to help others.
In those moments, they learned that the more they went beyond themselves, the more they acted selflessly, the more they cared, they mirrored Jesus Christ.
I will always remember them for the mark they left on my heart.
That is possible for each of us.
It begins when we recognize that much of what is happening around us can scar us if we let the negativity envelop us. To counter that, we too must withdraw to a quiet place. It need not be a physical location but it can well be into prayer, into our deepest thoughts, into our deep, personal space.
Then we contemplate the situation confronting us and, in turn, offer it to God. In the sense that we turn it over to him. We do so with the full knowledge that he will, as promised, both be there for us and always provide for us. When we do that, consistently and with true resolve, we find that he shows us the path.
Because we have opened ourselves and offered ourselves to be an instrument of his love, his compassion, his selflessness, we become that.
We become that.
If you are in a situation today that seems as if there is no way out, stop.
The way out is through him. In doing so, we are like him. By being like him, we love beyond ourselves and are loved by him,
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.
The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.