The Loaves and the Fishes
On the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time we read in Matthew the familiar story of the Loaves and the Fishes. We are told that after hearing of the death of John the Baptist that Jesus withdrew to a “lonely place” with his disciples. Was it to reflect on his feelings of grief and loss and the obvious danger surrounding John’s execution?
Despite his efforts to find time to be alone, the townspeople followed him, and he was faced with a large, waiting crowd. His own desires aside, he began listening to their needs and curing their ills. Their need for nourishment was not lost on Jesus, and he soon made it possible for the disciples to feed the huge group. What was not enough became enough because of Jesus’ deep compassion, his ability to challenge the disciples and appeal to the generosity of others to give what they had. Jesus asks the same of us~ to react with compassion to the sudden and unexpected and sometimes unwanted calls for our time and energy. He teaches us not to miss the real opportunities to bring nourishment and wholeness into a person’s life.
Jesus also makes it clear that he works through the compassion and generosity of each of us to help our brothers and sisters in need. Jesus did not feed the crowds directly; he left that to his disciples. The grave situation of woman and children, many unaccompanied, who have recently crossed our borders seeking refuge is a test of our willingness to respond with this same compassion.
In his letter to the people of Little Rock Arkansas, Bishop Anthony Taylor asks. “What can we do to help our brothers and sisters right now?” “Our faith in Jesus demands that in no way can we justify responding with indifference, anger, fear and just letting this be someone else’s problem.” He suggests that we:
Examine our own hearts ~ How do we see people like refugees at our borders?
Keep these women and children in our prayers
Be the voice for the voiceless-reach out to elected officials
Provide donations of needed money and supplies
In the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola ~ God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth…