|1 John 4:7-10
Psalm 72:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
“not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us”
“Justice shall flower in his days and profound peace.”
“He told them to sit on the green grass in groups or parties…neatly
arranged like flower beds.…taking…blessing, broke…and gave…enough leftovers
to fill twelve baskets…[they] numbered five thousand men.
Today we have the very familiar story of the feeding of the multitudes. In the translation from the New American Bible that I quoted here, Mark describes the groups of people looking like flower beds. The Revised Standard Version says this was groups of 50 – 100 people. This picture really struck me when I read it. Flower beds are laid out, planned, cultivated and nourished. Can you imagine setting out 5,000 flowers in neat beds and caring for them? I always try to have some flowers in my yard each year, but I am hard pressed to keep up with the three beds of mostly perennials, adding a few annuals for color and variety. Mark gives us the picture of not only the shepherd who leads and tends, but also the gardener who gets into the dirt, digging, weeding, aerating, and nourishing.
Jesus loved these people (and us) so much (1 John) that he fed them (feeds us) emotionally (he had compassion for them, verse 34), spiritually (he taught them at great length, verse 34) and physically (he fed their bodies, verses 40-44).
His actions in feeding them are the very same that he used at the Last Supper when he took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying “Do this in memory of me.” Which we do at each Mass, and he did with his own life and he does with our lives. He took on flesh, was baptized in the Holy Spirit, suffered and gave his life for us. He TAKES us as we are, imperfect, sinful, and selfish. He BLESSES us, while we are still sinners, in spite of our imperfections and self-centeredness. He holds us in our brokenness and sufferings, and if we respond to his love, He GIVES us to others to witness his love and forgiveness!
That is quite a mission; this act of surrender that Jesus asks of
us in ‘remembrance of him’. This cognitive love of giving, sharing,
helping is not easy. It is often not appreciated, but it is what
we are asked to do as Christians. We are to bring Christ to others,
as witnesses to his kingdom of love in which there will be “justice and
profound peace.” May each of you realize this reality in your own
small corner of the world so that each ‘flower bed’ can come to full bloom
and the whole world will experience the beauty of this garden. May
this New Year be full of joy and peace for you and your family.
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