The Gospel According to Matthew 15:29-37
At that time, Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full.
Opening Prayer: Prepare our hearts, we pray, O, Lord our God, by your divine power, so that at the coming of Christ your Son we may be found worthy of the banquet of eternal life and merit to receive heavenly nourishment from his hands. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
This reading is about the abundance that comes from God. This is what salvation means – the fulfilling of all our needs: spiritual, emotional, social and physical. At the end of this story seven baskets are still left uneaten. All this symbolizes the care that God takes of his people. This is a wonderful demonstration of God’s superabundant providence. We give him what little we have and he gives it back to us in a much greater way. We sometimes resist giving God what we have because we think it is not enough. We hesitate even though we can recall the times when God has provided for us, often over and above what we needed. So why do we continue hold back?
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The multiplication of the loaves is an example of how Jesus came to share his abundant life with each one of us. Jesus came to give us eternal life, but also to give us a full, rich life of freedom in him here and now. This is the abundant life of which he spoke. When we pay attention to the meals or feasts in the Gospels, many of them point to the Eucharist. In the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to the people. Notice that the bread was specifically broken, which indicates dying. This is key to how it was multiplied. The bread that was blessed, broken, and given is a biblical “type” of Eucharist. These are the same words that Matthew used to describe how Jesus instituted the Eucharist (Matthew 26:26). This is how the disciples on the road to Emmaus finally recognized him after his Resurrection: “When he was at table with them, he took the bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Luke 24:30-31). The Eucharist communicates Christ’s life, which is both abundant and eternal. One way to remain in Christ and receive life, both abundantly in this life and eternally is to receive the Eucharist.
Closing Prayer: O, Lord Jesus, thank you for providing for us both when we have offered you our gifts and even when we have not. We are sorry for the times when we have held something back from you. Thank you for coming to give us a share in your abundant life. Help us abide in you by making our hearts a place for you to abide in.
Action of the day: Mother Teresa said about Jesus, ‘He uses us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.’ In this miracle Jesus does not produce food out of nowhere. He takes the little that the apostles have, and he multiplies it a thousand fold. Today, let us remind each other that, no matter how little we think we have to give, once we freely place our gifts in Jesus’ service they become limitless.