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The Gift of Letting Go
Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I look to you with faith, knowing that you are the Lord of all. I trust my weakness to your grace. I give the little I have so that you can multiply the gifts I have received for the good of others. Lord, I humbly ask for help to let go of being in control, detaching my heart from achievements and success to receive what you give.
- Give: Jesus says there is no need for the crowds to go away and buy food for themselves. He challenges the Apostles, saying “give them some food yourselves.” Our independent culture teaches us to fend for ourselves and to let others do likewise. That’s not what Christians do, however. The Apostles thought it was impossible to feed over five thousand people with no food. We know, however, what Scripture teaches: “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). By faith, we are able to do everything our Lord asks of us. We are asked to use our God-given talents for his glory.
- Knowing Our Weaknesses: Life can sometimes challenge us beyond our means. Recognizing our limitations, asking for help, depending on others, inconveniencing them—all of this can be very difficult. Jesus was not inconvenienced by the crowds and he is not inconvenienced when we bring our needs to him. Jesus taught the apostles (and us by their example) that when something is too hard, we are to bring what we have to the Lord and allow him to provide what is lacking. Our dependence on Christ delights him.
- “Bring Them Here to Me”: Five loaves and two fish are a paltry bit of food for a crowd so large. Likewise, our efforts to live our vocation well, serve the poor, or feed hungry souls with the Gospel message are inconsequential unless we give them to Christ to be transformed for his glory. As Saint Paul reminds us, we might sing arias, write bestsellers, or run a megachurch, but our works will be clanging cymbals if we’re not connected to Christ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). To serve Christ is an invitation to interiority, to live by faith, to cultivate detachment from the results we would like to see. When we do so, Jesus calls us his Apostles and shares his mission with us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I walk in your company and I want to learn how to rely on you, especially when I feel that I have nothing left to give. Help me to know that what I have is enough for you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will surrender all that I have to you and watch with eyes of faith for your multiplication of my meager efforts.
For Further Reflection: Read Saint Paul’s words (1 Corinthians 13:1-7): If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Written by Renee Pomarico.