Today's Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21
This is one of the Gospel stories that we know so well, we might miss important details if we don’t pay closer attention. In the passage just before, John the Baptist was beheaded, so we begin here with Jesus learning of his cousin’s demise and retreating alone to a deserted place by boat. Surely, His withdrawal from the crowds was to allow Jesus time to pray and grieve, yet the crowds followed him.
We next read that Jesus was moved with pity for the crowds. These are likely the same people who had been baptized by John and Jesus saw that they, too, needed respite in their grief. He sets aside His own desire for quiet solitude and heals their sick.
When the disciples are worried that their few loaves and fish will be a meager meal for them, let alone thousands, they are astonished that Jesus suggests they feed the people themselves. The next important detail we can miss here is that Jesus takes the loaves and fish and “looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.” Jesus seeks the assistance of the Father in feeding the people and shares His work with the disciples.
We learn from Jesus the importance of prayer - both for personal renewal and comfort and for the service of others. He works miracles, but not for Himself or even for His own glory - He points us to His Father. Jesus desires to comfort the suffering and feed them, but He accomplishes this through grace from the Father and by the helping hands of the disciples.
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When I’m tired or weak, am I willing to make the extra effort to offer love and mercy to others, especially my family?
Lord, help me today to quiet my heart, that I would be attentive to the needs of others. Deepen my faith, that I may turn to You in all things and act in Your place, offering tenderness to those most in need.
Copyright 2017 Holly Novotny
Holly Novotny is a wife and mother of two teenage daughters. The Lord’s mercy and grace radically changed her life as a young adult and she threw herself into service of the Church. She is a Lifetime Marian Servant of Divine Providence and as a graduate of the Cenacle School of Spirituality offers spiritual direction in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.