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Real Food for Real Needs
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: Heavenly Father, I believe that you have invited me to this moment of prayer and that you have something you wish to say to me today. Open my heart to let your word take root and grow there. I trust in you. And I wish to respond to your goodness in love. Jesus, let me enter into this time of prayer with you.
- Jesus Sees our Humanity: This must have happened often in the three years of Jesus’ public ministry—that he spent such a long time preaching and teaching a crowd that they had eaten all the snacks they brought for the road trip. Hunger turned to hanger—for the apostles, too, perhaps. And Jesus was not insensitive to this. Perhaps in this time of prayer, we want to linger with this truth: there is no aspect of our humanity to which Jesus is insensitive. Everything about our lives matters to him, because it matters to us. Pondering with the Holy Spirit, is there any particular aspect of our life, even so human and mundane as hunger, which the Lord invites us to present to him? Let us be confident that he will receive it in love, and act as he sees best.
- Faith and Action: In his book The Memoirs of St. Peter, Michael Pakaluk makes an interesting point on this passage, which may enlighten our prayer today. If this was not the first time they had been with a crowd in need of food, neither was this the first time Jesus had asked them how many loaves they had. Yet they answered, as in the first multiplication of the loaves, that they didn’t know where to get bread sufficient to feed all. Had they forgotten the first miracle? Or rather, did they not wish to presume that the Lord would, in fact, perform another miracle? Let us pray for a heart like that of the Apostles, which trusts in the Lord and asks, waiting in faith and ready to act with love, for what God wants.
- He Gives Us What We Need: Contemplating our world today, we can ask with the Apostles, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them?” For this question rings loud and clear in our own hearts, too—not just to satisfy human needs, but also the deepest hunger at the core of every human heart. This miracle foretells of the Euchrist, which Christ came to give us—to give our souls life, by his own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Perhaps in this time of prayer, we can speak with the Lord about our relationship with him in the Eucharist and ask him how he wants it to grow.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you come to me in all my needs, as you did to this crowd and your Apostles. You give me your very self in answer to my prayers. You come to me in the Eucharist. Move my heart to seek you there and prepare my heart to receive you there. How I want you to enter more deeply into my life, Jesus, and me more deeply into yours.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. If I cannot, I will strive to spend a quiet moment with you, in the solitude of my heart.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read this passage, a foretelling of the Eucharist, in light of John 6.
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.