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Bible Reflections View Comments

It's Easier Than You Might Think
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, June 2, 2013
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If you’ve ever watched a really good cook whip up a meal or a fancy dessert, you’ve likely been dazzled by the ease with which he or she seems to work. Television chefs have a staff of assistants to pull together and measure ingredients and the magic of the camera reduces the time it takes to make a meal. But even in real life, experienced cooks have a routine and even some shortcuts that simplify their tasks.

In today’s Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus to dismiss the crowds so that the gathered multitude can seek food and shelter in the surrounding countryside. His immediate response is, “You give them something to eat.” They are rather taken aback by this, as most of us would be. Their focus is on what they don’t have and can’t do. Jesus, on the other hand, looks at what they have and makes it enough.

There will always be a debate among Scripture scholars and homilists about whether the true miracle here was Jesus miraculously turning a little food into a great deal of food, enough for thousands, or (perhaps more difficult to believe!) whether the people in the crowd were persuaded by his word and example to share with one another the provisions that they had brought with them to this event. The latter theory is not meant to explain away a supernatural event. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that however much we might value charity, we may find it hard to put into practice in our daily lives. We need to be reminded of the source of our blessings.

The disciples, I suspect, had a tendency to want to keep a tight hold on their easy and exclusive access to Jesus. That seems to be human nature. We’re not much different today.

Whether it’s our material possessions or our spiritual gifts, we can fall into a kind of grasping selfishness that goes against the example Jesus gave us.

From the first days after his election, Pope Francis continued a theme that had been prominent in his work in Buenos Aires. Again and again he reminded both the hierarchy and all Catholics that the reason the church exists is not for its own spiritual and material enrichment but as a way to bring Christ to the outskirts and the margins of society, to reach out to those who need to be fed, to bring the Good News of salvation to those who most need to hear it.

Our first reading on this Sunday comes to us from the earliest days of the chosen people, when a mysterious figure known only as Melchizedek blesses Abram and offers him bread and wine. From that day to this, the same elements indicate blessing, thanksgiving, the grace and providence of God.

The central action of our Eucharist involves the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ not as some spiritual spectacle, but as a gift and nourishment for his followers. It was given freely and openly. Like the gift of bread on the hillside, the Eucharist is both simple and universal.

We as the Body of Christ go forth from the Eucharist on Sunday to transform our neighborhoods and our world. It’s easier than we might think. When we fall into the trap of thinking that our resources are limited, we need to bring what we have to Christ and let him show us how it can be enough. We always have others to help us in this task, making up for our lack with their abundance.


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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, please fill my heart and soul with the confidence that you will always provide what I need, when I need it, and let me be obedient to you.

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