Feeding the people

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Summer picnics are a great time to gather with family and friends in backyards or local parks to celebrate a variety of occasions. From birthdays, to holidays, to wedding anniversaries, the spirit of love and sharing is evident. The planning and preparation for such events includes a lot of details! Can you imagine a picnic with five thousand men, their wives, and children gathered on a hillside? The happy sounds of conversations and the squeals of children as they enjoy games would certainly fill the air.
Our Gospel today paints such a picture. Jesus had withdrawn from the crowd, apparently to process the death of his good friend, John the Baptist, but the crowds followed him. Seeing their needs, he reached out to them in pity and compassion. He cured the sick and healed the brokenhearted.
As night approached and the people were getting hungry, the disciples told Jesus to send the people away so that they could get something to eat. Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “they don’t need to go way.” “You give them something to eat.” The disciples did: they gathered the five loaves of bread and two fish, and after Jesus blessed the food, they fed everyone and even had leftovers. (leftovers at a picnic….that’s a rarity!!)
When the disciples worked together, using what they had, and relied on Jesus, they were able to meet the needs of everyone present. We too, have been given all we need to meet the needs of others. If everyone were to use their God given gifts and talents, and join them with others’ gifts and talents, we would be able to alleviate many of the social problems…from hunger to housing to health care.
I recently returned from our Just 5 Days Youth Mission Trip to Springfield, Massachusetts. During this time, the students learned about the Social Teachings of the Church (based on the Gospel) and how we could join with others to serve the needs of those living in the area. As individuals we would have accomplished a few things, but in parish teams we were sent out and able to make more of a difference….from tornado cleanup, caring for the elderly in a nursing home, visiting and transporting residents in the Veterans Home, working in a food and clothing bank, and helping with the cleaning of classrooms, weeding a garden, and caring for children at a Head Start. It was a wonderful opportunity for our young people and we thank you for your support of prayer and money!
As the disciples were asked to gather the food from those present, and the Just 5 Days participants were invited to assess their own talents. We too, are each called to become aware of what talents and skills we have been given and how we are to share them on a daily basis…sometimes working as individuals and sometimes within an organization for the good of all.