Witness to the Miracle: Bringing Forth Our Gifts

bread

Today, in discussion of the Gospel Reading of the miracle of loaves and fish, I asked the children gathered what should we do with the gifts that God has given us? What if what we have is thought to be little? Conversely,  if we have acquired much, and have leftovers, what would we do with it? While,  I thought that I was leading them to provide typical answers of the things that they would buy or do with the new wealth they, much like the boy in the Gospel, truly offered gifts of the heart.   The first little girl said, “I would give ten percent to the church”, another boy said “I would seek to build shelter for the homeless”, and still another said,  “I would keep only very little, enough for my family to be able to live and eat”. Oh, out of the mouths of babes! I had to smile, as I then asked, “Do you know that this is exactly what Jesus has entrusted us to do as followers, in caring for the needs of our community?”

Re-imagining the Scene: Blessed and Broken (A beautiful invitation to reflection)

           If we look at the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, given to the multitude, it is bread given as an act of grace and an entrance into our present understanding that “all who eat the one broken bread, Christ, enter into communion with him and form but one body in him”[1]. From this encounter of Christ, we are then called to love and to be a sign of Christ made present in the world.  That our gifts, like that of the boy, though seemingly meager, can be multiplied through God’s grace and used to care for the material and spiritual needs of our community.

Still, in recognizing the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, can we truly attest to this continual miracle of Christ’s grace and presence multiplied in our lives, in our church and in our world today? Absolutely! Yet, just as in Jesus’ time, we also are faced with challenges to a deeper profession of that faith and witness to the miracle. For, intimately connected to this experience is a conversion of heart and transformation of self.  It is a call not to “follow human logic rather than God’s logic” and in doing so fail to understand the message of the miracle that is to occur.[3]  Rather, through “faith and prayer…we may share the little we have”, find that God has made it “suffice for everyone”, multiplied in fruits of “faith, service and love”.[4] I believe that Pope Francis is speaking clearly to our responsibility as disciples to answer Jesus’ question in offering our resources and trusting “without reserve…knowing everything is possible” through God.[5]   While this is our mission as disciples, we are still learning and growing in understanding, as did the apostles, in placing our trust fully in Christ.

As a church, and individually as disciples we need to ask ourselves if we are committed fully both to evangelization and service. This is a demanding call to imitate Christ’s love for humanity both in word and deed, in the tasks of “pastoral mission, communion and participation”.[6] While Vatican II reemphasized these, it was Evangelii Nuntiandi that so clearly issued the challenge for us today as a Church. Here, the Christian ‘life of prayer, the Word, teaching, charity’, and “sharing of bread…only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News”.[7] The contextual situations of poverty, oppression, homelessness, and disease particularly prevalent in the Third World do not allow them to adequately provide for themselves.[8]

Today we too are to answer the directive posed to us by Christ.  First, following the model of Christ, we are called to a greater awareness of the material and spiritual need of those within our local and global communities. In order to do so, requires that we are truly transformed by, and a witness to our encounter with Christ present in the Eucharist. Then, bringing our gifts and resources with confidence, we offer them to God to be blessed, multiplied and shared, turning none away. Finally, we are reminded of our task as disciples to gather our surplus, to allocate it appropriately so that none is lost and that all are filled.

May God bless you in your gift of self, service, and love!

Signature

How fitting is the naming and mission of this Massachusetts food pantry..  http://www.loavesfishespantry.org/  Now, do you know of one in your area? 🙂 St. Vincent de Paul


[1] CCC, 1329

[2] Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 32

[3] Francis, Angelus, St. Peter’s Square, June 2, 2013

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Francis, Journey to Rio de Janeiro on the Occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day. July 28, 2013.

[7] Paul VI, Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi. “From Christ to the Church’s Evangelizing”. I (15)

[8] Manus, “John 6:1-15 and its Synoptic Parallels”, 69.

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