Grace to you!
In his second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, (Rich in Mercy), published 30 November 1980, Pope John Paul II writes of the incredible mercy and compassion of God. He reminds us that God is rich in mercy.
God’s compassion reaches out to people as a group and as individuals. It is the mercy of God which draws us to repentance because we know the Lord is already inviting us to His mercy.
As Jesus went about preaching, healing and doing good, he wasn’t caught in the euphoria of popularity and large followership. He does all things well. His heart of mercy and compassion flows like a river towards those in need, just like God the Father seeks out those who are in need.
Jesus noticed that the multitude was hungry. Having fed them with the Word, he wanted to be certain they weren’t starving. He didn’t simply wish that they get food. He did all he could to feed them.
Big lessons for us today: as we preach God’s Word, do we also notice the social needs of the people? A hungry person, they say, is an angry person. The Gospel should also inspire us to seek out and help those in need. It is a crucial aspect of the Gospel we preach.
Notice the Lord did the miracle from what the people have. We won’t wait until we become billionaires before we help the less privileged among us. What is that dime, that bread, that fish, that extra we have, that little thing you have? In fact, going the extra mile to help the poor is the way of the Lord. Graciously offer what you have for someone who needs it the most. Sharing what we have no matter how small is a blessing.
There is a deeper spiritual meaning to the miracle of feeding the four thousand. At the Eucharistic celebration, during the “Presentation of the Gifts”, the presiding priest prays: “Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.” He says a similar prayer regarding the wine; and the congregation responds, “Blessed be God forever.”
We bring gifts to the altar. Those gifts are fruits of our hands. They grew from our farms or are bought by us. They are symbolic of what we bring alongside ourselves to the Lord for the offering. The gifts are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.
The Lord feeds us with himself. The miracles of the feeding of the four thousand, as well as the feeding of the five thousand, are symbolic as they point to many who will be refreshed and nourished by the Eucharist. We come to Jesus in the Eucharist and receive life to the fullest.
The Lord says: “Unless you eat of the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).
Praying for a deeper love for the Eucharist and the commitment to service and help for the poor in our midst. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday Week 5 A: 1 Kgs12:26-32; 13:33-34; Mk 8:1-10]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.