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Bread and Life
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I begin this prayer, I try to lift my heart up to you. I know you are delighted by my prayer today, and I will try to pray as best I can. That doesn’t mean I’m not lame or blind or hurting, but I’m fully confident that you will speak to me and even heal me, through the grace of prayer and the sacraments.
- Both Feet on the Ground: Advent lends itself to deep meditation on the Incarnation. Today, Jesus’s humanity comes out quite clearly. He walked along the seashore, as we like to do in moments of peace. He labored up a mountain, and probably sweat while doing it—as we toil when working. He felt the crush and smelled the crowd that pursued him, vying for his time and attention as our families vie for ours. Amidst our challenges, Christ does not forget us. Not only does his heart have compassion for us in our spiritual trials, but he takes into consideration our poor, beleaguered bodies as well. At times, he orders us to rest: “Just sit down!” he commanded the crowd.
- Where in the World? Like the crowd in the Gospel, we have also now been with Christ for these first three days of Advent. Perhaps we also feel that we have nothing to eat, that our efforts so far have been barren, and that we might faint along the way to Christmas. The intense demands on our time and energy are so great that we can feel harassed or simply inadequate. With the disciples, we groan, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Our Lord doesn’t insist that we have all of our own resources to persevere. He simply works miracles with what little we freely give him.
- Deep Satiety: Christ gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples in a manner heavily laden with Eucharistic symbolism. The Eucharist is the true food given to us by God. It is existential food, which means that it gives meaning to our lives. When we eat bread, our stomachs are filled; when we eat Christ, all that we are and all that we desire is filled. The Eucharist is the solution to those persistent inner longings that we all have: longings for friendship, for love, for self-giving, for adventure, for meaning. As St. John Paul II said, “Jesus Christ is the answer to the question posed by every human life.”
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, help me to refocus on you and on the gift of your Body and Blood. Time and again I tiptoe around, tinkering with foolish things that will not satisfy my hunger for life, for truth, for meaning. Thank you for inviting me again to the mountaintop! Renew my desire to receive you in the Eucharist, so that I can feed those around me with your love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a visit to you in the tabernacle, or if that’s not feasible, I will make a spiritual communion.
For Further Reflection: Follow the Saints: Make a Spiritual Communion.
Written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC.