USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.
Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
Good News Reflection:
Remember when you were a child, how you felt about the approach of Christmas? If you were raised in a Christian home, you associated the excitement of the season with Jesus’ birthday. But a big part of Advent, for most of us, was focused on our Christmas wish lists. We spent a lot of time hoping to get everything we wanted.
Today as adults, we understand that we should focus more on the needs of others than on ourselves. However, before we put coal in our stockings as penance for selfishly making wish lists again, let’s look at the psychological reasons for greed.
There’s nothing wrong with hoping for gifts. God wants us to be open to receive more than we actually have, because he is so very generous and has such great love for us. However, to desire materialistic gifts without wanting to share them with others is greed.
And greed is a reaction to unmet needs. The cure for this is faith — the faith that God meets all our needs.
No parents, no friends, no spouses can ever give us all that we need. We wish they did, but we must place our hope in God. Only God can be all that we need for all that we need. But unless we turn to God and ask him to fill us — unless we rely first and foremost on him for everything — we will continue to have selfish desires springing from unmet needs.
God wants us to give him our Christmas “hope lists” and then trust him to take care of us in his perfect way, in his perfect time, in his perfect generosity.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus has just finished giving a three-day seminar. His message was so captivating that most people forgot to go home and eat.
Jesus understood their needs. He cared about them so much that he worked a miracle, taking what was insufficient and converting it into a generous heaping of more than what was necessary. Do you realize that Jesus wants to give to you more than is necessary?
Today’s first reading says, “The Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples.” The responsorial Psalm says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing.”
Jesus understands your needs! Jesus cares about you! He can and wants to give you more than you need!
Why do we find this so hard to believe? Because first we have to turn to him and trust him rather than demand it from the people around us.
Jesus often provides for us through our own talents and through the people he has placed in our lives, just as he provided for the crowd on the mountainside using the fish and bread of the people, but we must let him decide the best way to take care of us. He really enjoys taking what is too little and multiplying it into too much.
Give God your “hope list” and let him do something surprising with it. Have no expectations of what he will do. Make no demands on him. Let him do it his way, and the results will be better than you could ever imagine!
Thank You, Lord, because You take my smallness and do great things with me for the glory of Your kingdom and as a testimony of Your love for humankind. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica