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Jesus loves to feed us

Recently, it struck me how much Jesus loves to feed people. Immediately after he raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead, he states that “she should be given something to eat” (Jn 5: 43). At Cana, Jesus provides 120-180 gallons of wine for the wedding celebration. After the Resurrection, Jesus meets several of the Apostles along the shore of the Sea of Galilea, prepares a fire, cooks a meal and yells to them, “Come have breakfast!” (Jn 21: 12). In today’s Gospel, Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fishes in order to feed the large crowd of people that have been gathering to listen to him, watch him perform amazing signs, and learn about this new Gospel way of life.

Although Jesus was a carpenter by trade, he had a real heart for hospitality. He really loved to feed people. It shows that he cares for the whole person. He wanted to be with them, build up fellowship with himself and other believers, feed them for the journey and reinforce in an informal setting the things He shared while teaching in more formal situations.

This beautiful grace of hospitality reaches a pinnacle in the Eucharist. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus mentions with uncharacteristic frankness how much he has longed to share the Last Supper with his Apostles. At this meal, Jesus prepares a table like no other. With an infinite and bottomless desire, Jesus longs for the unity with his disciples that can only come about by being truly present to us; He desires to nourish us not with mere bread and wine, but with his very self; he crafts a way to make it possible for his followers to be mysteriously present to him in the midst of his passion, death and resurrection — the moment he performed the greatest act of love the world has ever known.

Yes, Jesus loves to feed us.

Noting something else from our Gospel passage today, allow me to call attention to the child in today’s Gospel. Andrew, the Apostle, discovers a boy who possesses five barley loaves and two fish.  Jesus accepts the limited resources that the boy has, blesses them and provides for a large crowd.

This action of our Savior serves as a model for the church and her mission of building God’s kingdom on this earth. As a church, we need to focus on young people. We are invited by Christ to spend more time with young people, build healthy, selfless relationships with them, discover their developed and hidden gifts, and form them to be active participants in the life and mission of the church. The church needs more than ever to help young people become missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.

Finally, please note that, after this miraculous event, Jesus “withdrew again to the mountain alone.” Many of us are heading off for vacation in the next few weeks or at least enjoying what is commonly a slower few weeks in the hot days of summer. “Recreation” or being recreated does not truly happen without getting some additional quiet time with the Lord. Why is it that so often we come home from vacation and feel more wiped out than when we left? It is because we did not take time to be renewed, refreshed, fed and nourished by Jesus. Carve out time in your schedule in the next few weeks to get extra time alone with Christ in prayer with the Scriptures, in quiet before the Blessed Sacrament and at table in the Mass.

Jesus, the Bread of Life, longs to feed you as his beloved disciple.

Fr. Peterson is director of mission and development for the Youth Apostles. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018