Lectio

Drinking Well


No need for them to go

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd, and he took pity on them and healed their sick.


When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food." Jesus replied, "There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves." But they answered, "All we have with us is five loaves and two fish." "Bring them here to me" he said.


He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining, twelve baskets full. Mt 14:13-20

 

Lectio

 

Can you think of one or two people you know who are generous – generous with their time and with their money? The two you think of may have plenty to do themselves but are ready to make time for others. They may not be rich but they gladly share what they have. They may remind you of your own self at your best, and the ways in which you are generous.

We see this generosity in Jesus on the day that he multiplied the loaves and the fish. He had just heard the shocking news that John the Baptist was murdered on the orders of King Herod. Jesus was very close to John, he admired him and had worked with him. Jesus needed time to get away, to be quiet and to pray. So he set out in the boat with the apostles to find a place where they could be by themselves.

When they arrived at the quiet place, they found, to their surprise and perhaps to their dismay, a huge crowd waiting for them, including many sick people. Jesus must have had many feelings as he looked at the crowd and saw that his plans had been thwarted. But his deepest feeling was compassion: ‘he took pity on them and healed their sick.’ He gave up the time he needed for himself and he looked after them.

Minding their free time
Jesus knew there were times when he and his disciples needed to get away and rest, and he made his plans accordingly. But that was not the most important need. Mercy and compassion made him put the needs of others before their own needs. Pope Francis, in his recent Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel regretted that many laypeople and priests are minding their free time and neglecting the people they are meant to serve. He wrote: ‘At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time.’

My mother worked hard in our home and in the farm yard. In the middle of the afternoon she listened to her favourite programme on the radio. It was Mrs. Dale’s Diary. It was a fifteen minute ‘soap,’ (or a ‘serial’ as it was called then). My mother was seriously upset when anyone caused her to miss this programme. Yet we knew that when any of us was sick or in trouble, she willingly gave up this treasured time.

Give them something to eat yourselves
Generous people give their time and they give their resources. When evening came the disciples told Jesus to send the crowd away to buy themselves some food. Jesus said, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ All the disciples had was fives loaves and two fish; this would barely be enough for themselves. Jesus said a blessing over the food and multiplied it. At the end of the story the people were there together, all sitting down and relaxing and eating as much as they wanted. The miracle became possible when Jesus gave up his time, his energy and shared the small amount of food that was available.

What a miracle it would be if all the people of our world sat down peacefully together and shared the limited resources of the earth. Jesus lived and died to create a world like that. Slowly and patiently he continues to create such a world, as he lives in good people who share their time and their energy and their money today.

Prayer: Psalm 112
Good people take pity and lend,
they conduct their affairs with honor.
The just will never waver:
they will be remembered for ever.

They have no fear of evil news;
with a firm heart they trust in the Lord.
With a steadfast heart they will not fear;
they will see the downfall of their foes.

Open-handed, they give to the poor;
their justice stands firm for ever.
their heads will be raised in glory.


 

 Brendan Clifford

 



 

 

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