NUMBERS 11: 4b – 15
In those days: The people of Israel said, “O that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of gum resin. The people went about and gathered it, and ground it in mills or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it; and the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it. Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent; and the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favour in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people upon me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I bring them forth, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries the sucking child,’ to the land which you swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat. ’I am not able to carry all this people alone, the burden is too heavy for me. If you will deal thus with me, kill me at once, if I find favour in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 81: 12 – 13, 14 – 15, 16 – 17 (R.) 2a
R/. Sing joyfully to God our strength.
“My people did not heed my voice,
And Israel would not obey me.
So I left them in their stubbornness of heart,
to follow their own designs.” R/.
“O that my people would heed me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
At once I would subdue their foes,
Turn my hand against their enemies.” R/.
“Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their subjection would last forever.
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat,
and satisfy with honey from the rock.” R/.
Matthew 4: 4b
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
“He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”
MATTHEW 14: 13 – 21
At that time: When Jesus heard [of the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said. “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Giving What You Receive
August 7, 2023
Taking the five loaves and the two 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. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. (Matthew 14:19–20)
An important aspect of this miracle that is easy to miss is that Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes through His disciples’ instrumentality. He did this by inviting them to assist in the distribution of the loaves and in the gathering of the fragments left over. This reveals that God often uses us as mediators of His superabundant graces given to others. Though God could pour forth His mercy directly, most often He does so through others.
As you ponder this miracle, try to see yourself as one of the disciples who was invited to distribute the bread to the people. If you were there and were hungry and then were given bread, you would be tempted to eat the bread yourself before giving any away. But Jesus gave the bread to His hungry disciples with the instruction to first give it to others.
Sometimes, when God calls us to give His mercy to others, we become selfish. It’s easy to think that we must first take care of ourselves and our own needs. We erroneously believe that we can only offer mercy to others after our needs are met. Imagine, for example, if upon receiving the bread from Jesus the disciples would have decided that they should eat of it first. Then, if there was anything extra, they could give it to others. Had they done this, the superabundance of the multiplication of the loaves would not have happened. In the end, the disciples themselves received a superabundance of food—precisely because they first gave away what they had received.
Spiritually speaking, the same is true with us. When we receive spiritual nourishment from our Lord, our first thought must be to give it away. We must first see all that we receive from God as an opportunity to bestow those blessings upon others. This is the nature of grace. For example, if we are given a sense of peace or joy within our hearts, we must realize that this peace or joy we receive is a gift that must be immediately offered to others. If we are given a spiritual insight into the Scriptures, this is given to us first and foremost to share with others. Every gift we receive from God must be understood as a gift given to us so that we can immediately share it with others. The good news is that when we seek to give away that which we have received, more is given to us and, in the end, we will be far richer.
Reflect, today, upon the action of the disciples receiving this food from our Lord and immediately giving it away. See yourself in this miracle, and see the bread as a symbol of every grace you receive from God. What have you received that God wants you to distribute to others? Are there graces you have received that you selfishly try to hold onto? The nature of grace is that it is given to give it to others. Seek to do this with every spiritual gift you receive, and you will find that the graces multiply to the point that you receive more than you could ever imagine.
Most generous Lord, You pour forth Your grace and mercy in superabundance. As I receive all that You bestow, please fill my heart with generosity so that I will never hesitate to offer Your mercy to others. Please use me as Your instrument, dear Lord, so that, through me, You may abundantly feed others. Jesus, I trust in You.