January 5th, 2021

The Gospel according to Mark (6:34-44) 

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go 
to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” 
He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?  Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.

Opening Prayer: Loving Lord, You yearn to shower us with blessings.  Let us be open to those blessings that You have for us, that we may not only receive what we need, but even more what You desire.  Let us know that You care for our needs and for the yearnings of our hearts.

Encountering Christ:

God longs to bless us.  He longs to be near us, and for us to know that He is right beside us on our journey.  Sometimes, though, we may get overwhelmed by the stress of our lives, and we fail to remember that God never leaves us.  We may wonder, though, what exactly is the blessing that God wishes us to have?  It may be a physical blessing – a healing, something to satisfy a physical need – or it may be a spiritual blessing, where we have a better sense of God’s peace and presence with us.  Whatever that blessing is, we still need to pause and watch for it.

Today’s Gospel shows the generosity of God.  It also shows that we need to have a perspective where we allow ourselves to see when God touches us.  If we take time to pause, and to ask God what He wishes to bless us with, He will show it to us.  Another point is that the blessings we receive are those that God wants us to have.  We are encouraged to pray for what we want, but the other side of that is to know that God will give us what we need.  What we want and what we need are not necessarily the same things.  Part of our journey as followers of Jesus is to know that God ultimately wants what is best for us.  We may *think* we know what is best, but often don’t have all the facts.  The story of the feeding of the five thousand and the multiplication of the loaves and fishes shows that God can do anything, and all we have to do is trust that He will guide us on the path He knows is the one to which we belong.

One of the great wonders in my life is to encounter those who seem to have so little, but they often have the greatest joy.  That is because they know that they don’t need a lot to be happy.  The material world doesn’t tell us to be happy with what we have – no, it tells us that we need more to be happy!  That’s the challenge of life as a Christian.  Jesus calls us to be happy with what we have, and to share our excess with those who are in need.  It can be something physical, like donating clothing or other things to places that can pass them along to the needy.  Or, it can be the act of extending love and charity to others in our lives.  Listening to a friend who is in trouble.  Being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us.  Praying for our needs, and for those of the whole world.  

Closing Prayer: Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.  Fill me with gratitude for your blessings.  Give me a generous heart that I may freely share what you have given to me.

Action for the Day: Reach out to one of the organizations in your community that assists the poor and homeless and offer your time, or something you no longer need, so that others may benefit.

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