Monday, August 1, 2011

Holy Day Off

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Yesterday's Gospel reading is a story we hear many times throughout our life growing up with the Church.

"'Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.' Then he said, 'Bring them here to me,' and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full" -Matthew 14:17-20


Catholics love this story! It's Eucharistic, full of the symbolism we love, and it reminds us of the good old days when people crowded into one area, sitting down knee-to-knee to pay attention to Jesus.

From the John account of this story, we learn that the crowd was at least 5000 men full. We stand in awe at Jesus' ability to turn five loaves and two fish into enough to feed his listeners.

Many find themselves defending the miraculous and others try explaining a logical reason that He made the food multiply. As my priest mentioned in the homily yesterday, we tend to get caught up in the miraculous and "the proof" upholding the story.

We worry about defending a miracle. We trip up in the face of the hard questions.

Perhaps those in the crowd packed a bag of food to feed their families. Perhaps they shared with those around them, enriching the miraculous with selflessness like Jesus preached. Maybe the Gospel writers just neglected to report that Bartholomew/Nathaniel went on a pizza run.

Rather than concentrating on the miracle, an integral part of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, let's consider the other factors. What can we absolutely recognize in the account?

Five-thousand men walked to a deserted area, listened to Jesus, mimicking what we now recognize as a Sunday church service. It was not the Sabbath, otherwise someone would be up in arms about Jesus speaking to the crowds or performing a miracle.

Therefore, we can conclude these people either walked away from their normal work duties, leaving the fish sorting for later, or spent their limited free time with the teacher from Nazareth.

No one had a college degree. Their country was occupied by Rome and they were also ruled by the high-ranking Jewish priests. No one had an easy life, yet they carved out the time to listen to Jesus preach.

How often do we do that? We have a whole faith tradition and several community pockets supporting our belief system and we still struggle to make time for Him.

These people just thought he was a good teacher; they had no reason but His caring speech to project that He was as special as He was.

(I don't own the rights)
Do we treat time with Jesus like these first listeners did? To what activities in our lives do we dedicate that time?

Often, I'm quick to miss Mass because it's inconvenient. When I was swimming, I missed Mass every single weekend I had a swim meet.

Sometimes we easily convince ourselves that God will Love us whether or not we make it to Mass to share in the Word and Eucharist. We're fortunate, because He will Love us, no matter what we do.

But since when do we want to give Him "just enough?"

Leave work, leave the things the occupy your mind most of the week, leave your fears about stories such as these. Come join the community of listeners and share in the Eucharistic meal.

3 comments:

Julie Robison said...

GREAT post. Thank you for this!

Marc Cardaronella said...

You know, that's a good point! I never thought about the fact that 5,000 men left what they were doing to follow Jesus for 3 days. They must have had other stuff going on in their lives like...jobs, maybe? Sometimes I have a hard time just popping over to the church for a quick hello and I work right next door!

Thanks for the reminder to leave some of my distractions and go spend some time listening to Jesus.

seashore said...

I love this post. I posted about the same passage from mass this week. It seems that when we get all caught up in explaining the miracle that we miss everything else that the scripture is trying to tell us. Thanks for the insight.

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