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For Whom Am I?
Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I am feeling particularly blessed today and ask that you accept my joy as I prepare to read and reflect on your word. You are so good, and I am confident that you will shower your graces upon me as we spend this time together.
- Hungry for What?: In this second story of the multiplication of loaves and fishes (the first was recorded in Mark 6:31-44), we see again that the people following Jesus were so enthralled that they had forgotten to eat or to otherwise provide for themselves for three days! How compelling must Christ have been! They had chosen the company of Christ over meeting their most basic needs. We have the privilege of consuming the Bread of Life every day if we choose to. May our hearts, so often dulled by routine, be set aflame anew as we listen to Christ’s preaching and are fed at his table in every Mass.
- Close to Christ: To an outside observer, the behavior of these four thousand people would have seemed absurd. Despite their discomfort, they had chosen to remain close to Christ. As a result, his heart was “moved with pity” and he sought a remedy for their hunger. When we persevere during trials or temptations and “remain in him” (John 15:4), Christ himself sees to our needs. He knows our exact circumstances (how far we’ve come and how hungry we are) and has proven in word and deed that he cannot be outdone in generosity. We can trust him.
- Complete: Our Lord’s heart was moved with pity for the crowd and, as the Son of God, he had infinite power to fix the problem. But he didn’t fix it himself. He chose then, as he does today, to invite people to be missionaries to feed the hungry. “How many loaves do you have?” he asked his disciples. He asks us as well. We answer by dedicating our time, talents, and treasures to Christ in works of apostolate. In the name of Christ, Pope Francis exhorts us: “Please, do not leave it to others to be protagonists of change. You are the ones who hold the future! Jesus was not a bystander. He got involved. Don’t stand aloof, but immerse yourselves in the reality of life, as Jesus did. Above all, in one way or another, fight for the common good, serve the poor, be protagonists of the revolution of charity and service, capable of resisting the pathologies of consumerism and superficial individualism.” Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christus Vivit 174.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for your willingness to feed me constantly with grace through the sacraments. I sometimes greedily seek your blessings, forgetting that everything is meant to be shared. Strengthen me, Lord, and purify my intentions so that I become a willing and effective apostle for you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look at the needs of the people in my life and assess what I can do to help.
For Further Reflection: I would remind you of the most important question of all. “So often in life, we waste time asking ourselves: ‘Who am I?’ You can keep asking ‘Who am I?’ for the rest of your lives. But the real question is: ‘For whom am I?’” Of course, you are for God. But he has decided that you should also be for others, and he has given you many qualities, inclinations, gifts, and charisms that are not for you, but to share with those around you. Christus Vivit 286.
Written by Maribeth Harper.