“Give them some food yourselves.” With these words in Sunday’s Gospel (Mt 14:13-21), Jesus is not only challenging His disciples, but is once again being the Teacher. He wants them to understand their own poverty, apart from Him. At the same time, He wants to teach them the ever abiding richness that flows from Him.
Blessed Pope John Paul II in His Post Synodal Exhortation, Pastores Gregis, following the 2001 Synod on the Life of Bishops, in the conclusion, used this passage to give a concise teaching on the abundance of grace and goodness that is ours in Christ. He tells us that this abundance which fed the 5,000 still exists in the Church today!
My own “poverty as a bishop” is before me always, and it is important for me to recognize this, because it is only then that I am ready to approach Jesus as my only “Treasure”, and the Font of grace from Whom flows everything I need, and everything the Church needs. This “abundance” that is Jesus also calls me and the Church to practice great charity, as a sign of our confidence that His abundance still abides in the Church today, and is still ready and waiting for our confident trust and faith!
This “charity” is first and foremost to be demonstrated in our relationships with one another; our conversations, dialogue, “debates”, and the basic respect owed each person as a cherished child of God. And of course, great charity is always called for in never forgetting the poor and those whose needs are so much greater than our own.
This week, may we be honest about our own “poverty”, and call upon Christ to be the beginning and end of everything that we do. He is always with us, and longs to “partner with us” in everything. He calls you to “give them something to eat”, as He does me. May everything we do be flavored with our intention, desire and effort to give the world, Christ.