He Gives Us All We Need
One Sunday I was going down the aisle to distribute communion when I noticed one of our young families, Mom, Dad and their four little children. One, the oldest boy was sitting next to Dad. Then there was Mom with the other three children all holding on to part of her. One had her left arm, one was on her lab cuddled into her, and the third was snuggling into her right side. I thought to myself that they, and she especially, has to have an awful lot of love to give to her kids, but she does. Somehow, Moms and Dads always have more than enough of love for each child, no matter how many children they have.
“The people are hungry, Lord. Send them away so they can get something to eat.”
“You give them what you have to eat, it’ll be plenty for them.”
So the disciples fed the people. They ate too. Afterwards, they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of the fragments of food.
United with Jesus they had plenty of what the people needed. This reading isn’t just about bread. It is about spirituality. It is about Holiness. It is about possessing the very Presence of the Lord. For a time would come when the physical bread would be replaced with the Bread of Heaven. And the disciples would eat this bread and feed it to others. There would be plenty for everyone.
When we go to the Lord and nurture our union with Him, He feeds us and provides us with all that we need to feed the hungry of the world, those who are searching for meaning in life, those who are searching for Him.
I have to be honest with you. There are times that I feel drained; that I feel that I have nothing more to give. Maybe you feel that way at times yourself. What I have learned is that the times that I feel empty are always the times that I have decided that I was too busy to pray like I should, to do the spiritual reading that I needed to do, to make extra time for God in my life. But when I do nurture the Presence of the Lord, there is always plenty for everyone, including myself.
Be honest with yourselves, when you feel drained, when you feel that you have nothing left to give others, ask yourselves, “What is my prayer life like?” When we make the time for God, through a miracle beyond explanation, as all miracles are, we always have enough time and enough strength, and enough holiness, to feed others.
He provides more than we need and more than those we feed need. He provides so much that it is normal for us to collect many wicker baskets of fragments left over. It is normal for us to be strengthened by the holiness of those whom we have fed. Parents are often edified by their children. Priests often receive experiences of holiness from their people.
This is the lovely cycle of Christian holiness: We eat. We feed. And we are fed by those whom we cared for.
“Come to the water, all you who are thirsty. Heed me and you shall eat well.” We heard from the first reading, Isaiah 55.
Sure, we often feel outnumbered. We are proclaiming a radical lifestyle to a world that has deified selfishness. Our Teens and college students are proclaiming Jesus to classmates who mock the spiritual. Our adults deal every day with work mates and neighbors who have neither concept of nor desire for spirituality. Our seniors are confronted with companions who have embraced promiscuity. The media glorifies the scandalous and mocks the religious. Materialism dominates American life. Few people realize that, as the country song says, you never see a hearse with a luggage rack.
We are a minority. But we are strong. We are powerful. We have the Power of Jesus Christ. Nothing can stop us. Nothing will stop us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
St. Paul to the Romans, today’s second reading.
Jamie Kelleher loved that passage. Jamie was 14, almost 15, and on his deathbed. I brought him communion and read this passage. He received, and then he told me that he had lost everything. He had been president of his class, but his friends were 100 miles away. He used to work out, but now he couldn’t even stand up. “I’ve lost everything, even my privacy,” he said, “But no one can take Jesus Christ from me.” I gave him communion and he fed me.
My sisters and brothers, Women of God, Men of God, as I grow up, which at 61 I am doing a little bit at a time, I come to a deeper and deeper realization that all I need in life is Jesus Christ. When I have Him, I have plenty, plenty for myself and plenty for others.
Feel the Power of Jesus, feel the Holy Spirit, right here, right now. Nourish this power by eating every day, prayers in the morning and evening, union throughout the day. Prepare for and treasure the Special Meal, the Eucharist, always aware that it is through the Sacrificial Love of Christ on the Cross that the world is being fed.
There is no reason for any of us to be hungry. There is no reason for any of us to be drained. He gives us all we need. He gives us Himself.