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.”
He 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.
Please pray for all of our seminarians who will be on retreat this week with Fr. Paul Murray, the retreat master. Our goal is to grow in holiness and also to build fraternity among the seminarians of our diocese. Be assured of our prayers for you while on retreat.
Today we see both the human nature and the divine nature of Christ. Jesus is mourning the loss of his cousin John the Baptist and wants to go to a deserted place to grieve. This is so human and reminds us of Jesus weeping when he heard of Lazarus’ death. Those who have lost a loved one know this need to be alone for a time of grieving. Jesus has experienced all the emotions we experience as human beings.
But they didn’t allow Jesus to be alone for the crowds sought Him out. He was such a powerful teacher and preacher that they always wanted to be around Him. They were hungry for something or someone. They weren’t sure what they were looking for but Jesus was meeting a deep desire in their hearts. And in His infinite love and mercy, Jesus left the solitude he was seeking to grieve, and continued to give Himself wholeheartedly to the people. And their hearts were satisfied by Jesus.
Our hearts can only be satisfied by Jesus, the infinite One. Yet, we try to fill our hearts with things that are finite. We seek Jesus every day, but we don’t often know where to look.
Jesus felt pity for them (another human feeling) and healed the sick. Just so, the Lord looks upon us when we are sick (physically and spiritually). He wants to heal us from all of our wounds.
And then Jesus shows His divinity as He multiplies the five loaves and two fish to feed thousands of people, with plenty left over. He takes the small gifts given to them and multiplies them in abundance. That is how the Lord loves us – abundantly. He wants to feed us, nourish us, heal us, abide in us. And he takes our meager gifts and multiplies them abundantly.
There is no greater way that the Lord feeds us than in the Eucharist. Just as Jesus gave his body and blood on the cross for our salvation, He continues to pour Himself out for us in the Eucharist. We receive Him sacramentally in Mass every day. This is the abiding presence that He wants to have with us. He feeds us with the Word and with His own body and blood. Try to visit an adoration chapel this week to spend time in silent prayer in the Presence of our Lord.
Let us take time today to reflect on how much God loves us. He experienced life as a human being. He loves us as our God and creator.
Have a blessed day!