FEB. 13. ORDINARY TIME. WK. 5. SAT. MK. 8.1-10.
A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.
This Gospel reading contains a very simple message for believers and that is God cares for his people and provides for our needs. Certainly, here we are talking about food for people who are hungry, but the message we should take from the reading is much broader than that; - it reveals Christ’s Love and Compassion for his people; - despite the fact they are sinners!
“I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry, they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.” In these few simple words Christ reveals the sentiments in his heart towards his People; - sentiments of love and compassion, and lacking in any sense of frustration or annoyance at their human failings; - of which he was also well aware.
The provision of food, as in this reading, is but one area of need that Christ addressed on more than one occasion after his followers had been with him for an extended period. The caring sentiments in his heart however have been revealed in multiple and varied situations, not the least of which was his incarnation and birth in a stable, and his Passion and Death on Calvary; - all of which were embraced in order to reveal God’s love; - to teach; - and to redeem!
Christ’s miracles were also carried out in order to reveal, and provide evidence of, his Divinity so his followers could “believe in him”. Then there is his sermons and teachings scattered throughout the New Testament revealing a new way of life that he wants his people to adopt with his core lessons being ‘spelt out’ in his Sermon on the Mount.
This was all followed by the establishment of his Church via Peter and the twelve Apostles, providing us with the Sacraments that resulted in the Priesthood, Confession, Marriage, and the Eucharist; - together with the Scriptures, and the gift of Mary his Mother to be our Mother.
All of these gifts have a common purpose; - to reveal the Love and Compassion of God for his people, and His desire to enter into an intimate and loving relationship with each of us: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him”!
As a result of this love, and all these gifts, there is, clearly, an obligation on us, as creatures, to make a return to God for his generosity, wisdom, love and compassion but, sadly, many of us are so focussed on our desires and attraction for “the things of the world” we have little time for “the things of Heaven”; - a situation we all need to strive to rectify in our personal lives?