Today’s Scripture readings show God’s concern for the hungry. In our first reading from the Second Book of Kings we hear how Elisha cut through the red tape and insisted that the bread be given to the people, even though the bread was that of the first fruits which was set apart and marked as offering for God. In the Gospel account we see Jesus providing bread for the hungry crowd that followed him into the wilderness.
Food is a basic necessity of life. Feeding the hungry is the first of the corporal works of mercy. In the Parable of the Judgement of the Nations, Jesus says, “When I was hungry you gave me to eat,” or “When I was hungry you failed to feed me.”
When Jesus encountered people who were hungry he gave them the only thing that mattered to them at the moment. Jesus gave them food and with great love and generosity. As the story tell us, all ate their fill and there were still twelve baskets of leftovers. Jesus took the five loaves and gave thanks. So should we when we eat. In a world where millions are hungry, we should never take food for granted.
Every loaf of bread is as much a miracle as those Jesus gave to the hungry crowd. Every loaf is touched by many human hands and by the hand of God. This is expressed in a beautiful and powerful way at Mass when the priest offers the bread to God: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.”
God does the same miracle through the seasons of the year and the harvest. In our wheat fields he multiplies not loaves but grains, so that if we do our part there is enough for everyone. A single grain of wheat has the ability to produce as many as seventy grains.
The miracle of Jesus should make us thankful to God for the food we have, and careful not to waste it. It should also instill within us a deep desire to care for those who lack food. The problem of what to do with our surplus food is a profoundly disturbing one for Christians. One answer is to stockpile it. But surely the stockpiling of surplus food is as great a scandal as the stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Each day tons of food is put into dumpsters. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry.
The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves is a miracle of generosity. We experience the generosity of God every time we sit down to a meal, especially the Eucharist. Our experience of God’s generosity to us should result in an enlarging of our hearts, and a desire to be generous towards those who are not as fortunate as ourselves.
I would like to challenge you, as I do myself, by reading Matthew 25:31-46. It makes me ask myself, “Am I doing enough?” It is a very thought provoking parable.
— Fr. Dennis, July 29, 2018