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I Give You My Littleness, Lord
Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come to you in faith this day, wanting to hear what you are saying to my heart. Transform my mind and heart to be more like yours.
- Miracles: John set the stage for this miracle, noting, “The Jewish feast of the Passover was near.” Immediately, we are invited to draw a correlation between this miracle and the Passover, which Jesus would bring to fulfillment in his own flesh, and which we continue to live with intensity during this Easter season. In this sense, the miracle recounted in today’s passage is eminently Eucharistic. Although we were not among the hungry crowd delighted by the abundance of fish and bread, our experience may not be so different from theirs. At Mass, we observe the miracle of an abundance of Eucharistic bread, broken and distributed by Jesus in the personhood of his priest to the hungry crowd. “You come to me and unite yourself intimately to me under the form of nourishment. Your Blood now runs in mine, your soul, Incarnate God, compenetrates mine, giving courage and support. What miracles! Who would have ever imagined such!” (St. Maximilian Kolbe).
- From Jesus’ Heart: What must have been in Jesus’ heart, as he looked upon this crowd and knew that his own Passover was drawing near? Perhaps we could read today’s passage in light of the verses from John 3, which have been carrying us through this week. Jesus, our light and love, looked out over the crowd. His heart was moved to pity as he turned to his apostles, asking them to assist him, inviting them to a deeper faith. He fed the crowds superabundantly. In return, he sought only to be loved as the Son of God. This is Jesus who came not to condemn us, but to save us. He who gave us his own flesh to eat: what would he not do for our salvation, for the life of the world?
- Miracle: What began as, “What good are these for so many?” became, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” This miracle came about because the Apostles trusted in the Lord who asked for their few resources. When they brought their meager offerings to be blessed by him (again, this passage foretells of the Eucharist, which Jesus would also take, bless, break, and give [Matthew 26:26]), those offerings became life-giving to others. Our Lord delights to work with our poverty to bring about his Kingdom. Let us take heart, trusting that he will never laugh at the littleness we can offer, but wishes, rather, to bless it for the life of the world. “Be patient because the weaknesses of the body are given to us in this world by God for the salvation of the soul. So they are of great merit when they are borne patiently” (St. Francis of Assisi).
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you accepted the few resources your Apostles had to offer you and made of that very poverty something great for the world. In the Eucharist, too, you take what seems an ordinary piece of bread and make of it your Body and Blood. If you can do this, then you can make something of my own littleness. Here I am, Jesus; you know me better than I know myself. I want to be a vehicle of your grace for others. Work a miracle of new life in me, Risen Jesus.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to make an act of trust, giving over to you some way in which I feel inadequate so that you can make of my littleness a vehicle for your grace.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to spend some time in prayer with this song, All of Me, by the RC Music Collective, which may help you in your prayer to place yourself, even with your poverty, before the Lord in the Eucharist.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.