In Matthew’s account of the feeding of the multitude, Jesus is moved with compassion to heal the people (v. 14). In Mark he is moved to teach them (Mark 6:34). Both aspects are important. The Lord loves us and wants to heal and teach us. This he does supremely in the Eucharist. He feeds and teaches us at the table of the Word. We cannot grow spiritually unless we are being taught – through the Word of God and through the teaching of the Church. In the Eucharist the Lord also feeds us with his own body and blood, healing us and giving us new strength. We are all on a journey to the Father: ‘The whole of the Christian life is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father’ (John Paul II, Tertio millennio adveniente 49). On that journey we are all wounded and needy. The food of the Eucharist penetrates into the depths of our being to renew us by healing the wounds of our sins and pouring the life of God into us.
Jesus involved his disciples in his work of feeding the five thousand. He asked them to distribute the bread and fish and then gather up the remaining scraps. But before involving them Jesus challenged the disciples to feed the people out of their own resources. This they could not do. They needed the power of Jesus.
In the same way, the Lord invites us to feed our brothers and sisters. But first we have to acknowledge that this is something that we cannot do in our own strength. We need the help of the Lord to feed and heal them. It can only be done through his grace. In his great compassion for his people the Lord longs to nourish them in the Eucharist, sustain and teach them through his Word and comfort them as they pray. He cannot do this for them unless we lead them to him. And so we need to learn to bring them to him in prayer. We cannot rely on our own resources, but must use the gifts he has given us. We can only lead others to be fed if we first admit our own need and allow ourselves to be nourished by him.
‘Jesus, you alone can satisfy my heart’s hunger. Fill me with new life and strength through your body and blood and help me to lead others to you to be fed!’
|Isaiah 55:1-3||Psalm 144(145):8-9, 15-18|
|Romans 8:35, 37-39||Matthew 14:13-21|