Daily Reflection
August 7th, 2000
Peggy Duffy, OSU
Graduate, Christian Spirituality Program

Jeremiah 28:1-17
Psalms 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102
Matthew 14:13-21

Sometimes the obvious goes unnoticed by those of us who are not “morning people.”  My day in the parish had gone longer than usual and I’d only been asleep for a few hours when the phone rang just before sunrise.  A voice on the other end was requesting food for his family from our parish food pantry.  After gathering the needed information and establishing a time to come and pick up the food that was needed, I tried to fall back asleep and couldn’t.  My day had begun and I sat at my computer and began to put this reflection on the miracle of the loaves and fishes into words.  The early morning phone call had awakened not only my body, but also my spirit.    

How easy it is to become absorbed in oneself and forget about being gracious and compassionate when we are tired and in need of rest.  However, if this miracle of the loaves and fishes is to happen again today and not merely remain an event that took place centuries ago, then attention needs to be paid to the everyday interruptions that occur.

Looking at the setting of the story in today’s Gospel, we see Jesus mourning the death of his cousin, John the Baptist.  He was drained both physically and emotionally and sought rest, quiet, and time to heal.  Yet, being the compassionate healer, Jesus responds. 

There is such a wealth of richness in this scripture passage, this call to compassion and graciousness.   However, it is not only from a personal dimension but also from the standpoint of the Christian community that I continue to ponder its meaning.  It is often the community around us that calls us forth out of ourselves and into a new life.  This is what Jesus did when he was feeling tired and wanting to be alone.  The people followed him and sought him out wanting the security of Jesus’ presence after the death of John.  Jesus, in all his graciousness and compassion, allowed himself to be drawn to the people. 

Most often the translation of this Gospel quotes Jesus saying to his apostles, “Give them something to eat yourselves.”  I am fascinated with another translation that says, “Give them yourselves to eat.”  Could the loaves and fishes that we are called to share be our loving presence to one another?   Isn’t this what it means when at each Eucharistic celebration we are commissioned to go forth and feed the crowds by being a source of Christ’s presence to all those we meet?  As we begin each day, let us look at who the “crowds” are in our lives.  We meet them in our homes, the workplace, and in each situation in which we find ourselves.  Can we give them ourselves to eat?  Can we be sensitive to the pain, disappointment, and fear that others are experiencing and be a listening presence to them?

Today, watch out for that intrusion into your plans.  It could be the community calling you forth to show your graciousness and compassion and the opportunity to “give them yourselves to eat!” 

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