Scripture Reading for Today: Mark 6:34-44 (read it here)
Jesus has a few hours of quiet retreat, but soon he sees that a large multitude has arrived on the shore and is moving toward him. Rather than telling the crowd to please go home and leave him and his disciples some more time of rest and relaxation, Jesus welcomes them; and his heart goes out to them.
Jesus understands the crowd’s sorrows, and he takes their burdens on his heart. With his power, he removes their afflictions. With him, sympathy is not just a feeling, but helpful action. Jesus teaches them, heals them, and feeds them.
Jesus sees these people as sheep without a shepherd. No animals are as dependent as sheep. Without someone to guide them, they wander, get lost, and become food for wolves. Without someone to lead them to pastures, they starve.
Jesus knows that the people are like that: their leaders fail to give them reliable guidance and do not supply their souls with nourishing food, because their minds are too occupied with legalistic niceties.
Jesus not only heals the sick, but also teaches them, and this must have taken a considerable amount of time.
By his miracles and teachings, Jesus so captivates the vast crowds that even now that it is already late in the day, they are not leaving. The disciples advise Jesus to send the people away right now in order that they may still try to go to the surrounding farms and villages to buy food for themselves.
Jesus’ answer is surprising, for he says, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus means that the disciples must not be so quick to shake off responsibility, because they were often ready to do this very thing, and to say, “Send the people away.”
Jesus wants to remind his disciples that simply trying to get rid of people in need is not the solution, and it is certainly not God’s way of doing things. Jesus also wants the disciples to learn to ask, seek, and knock. In other words, he wants his disciples to claim God’s promise for themselves, and to go to him who can supply every need.
A few months earlier they had seen Jesus supply wine when there was a shortage, but it does not occur to them that Jesus can also supply spiritual and material bread.
Jesus strengthens the disciples’ faith by means of an unforgettable miracle. From a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish Jesus begins to break off chunks of edible size. He keeps giving these to his disciples who carry them to the people; and not only everyone is fed and fully satisfied, but there are twelve baskets full of leftovers.
This miracle of the fish and loaves points to the Eucharist where the Father and Jesus continue to feed multitudes of people with the bread of life. The Eucharist, in turn, is the foreshadowing and anticipation of the heavenly banquet.
Let us continue the work of Jesus by helping those in need.
In union with Mary, let us also nourish our souls with Jesus’s gift of his word and sacrament.
Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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