Few scenes from the Bible are as full of Eucharistic imagery as the “Feeding of the 5000.”
For us, people of the Eucharist, the heart of this scene echoes across time beautifully within the Mass, and there are a few elements we do recognize and celebrate in our Catholic tradition.
We are shown how the whole group is divided into smaller groups, as our Mother Church is divided into individual parishes, yet united together in the sharing of the bounty, the meal of Christ. We all eat from the same source.
Christ blessed the food brought before Him, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. He broke the bread, gave it to His disciples, multiplied so that the multitude all ate and were satisfied. In the same way today, the priest blesses the bread and wine, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. He breaks the bread, and gives it to Christ’s disciples, us, to be satisfied more than with food, for His overflowing Grace touches and replenishes each one of us.
When we partake of His banquet, we must remember to be grateful for His gift of self to us. The fullness of our Lord is broken and shared with each of us present. This is life-changing and life-giving.
Hidden in between the beautiful words of the bible passage above, specifically in Mark 6:37, our Lord says to us: “Give them some food yourselves.” Christ calls us to feed the hungry, but how can we when we do not have that much?
Growing up in Puerto Rico, in a humble family, we never had “that much,” yet we never really lacked for anything. We had what we needed, not much more, and not much less. Compared to many of our neighbors, we were well off, for many did not have much.
We had enough to feed just ourselves, but often friends would come to visit, and, somehow, food always found its way to their plates at the table. What if someone else also unexpectedly showed up? It would speak of our love and resourcefulness, that we would find a way to stretch our love.
“Asopao” is a typical Puerto Rican dish. It is a very wet dish, rice cooked in stock, like a savory porridge. It was simple fare that would feed many with very little. What if we needed to include one or two or a few more to our table? We added a bit more rice and stock, said our prayer of thanksgiving, and again offered the work of human hands. The asopao just seemed to multiply.
I remember being taught since youth that where two could eat, three could eat also. All it takes from us is a bit of sacrificial love. We are called to let go of our impressions of lack and embrace an attitude of plenty. When love compels us to share, we can get by with a little less. That small sacrifice embraces the ones in need. It is at times like these that we emulate Christ Jesus. He asks us, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” What are we to do then but to go and see?
I have always found it interesting that, in our human nature, we tend to look at our lives and feel that we lack something, that we do not have enough. This feeling of lack gives an opening to sin. We become weary of others. We do not trust; we hide what we have instead of sharing it. We become more selfish and more isolated. That is not the right approach. In fact, giving of ourselves selflessly for the love of God, even when we do not have much to offer, allows Him to multiply our gifts by pouring out His Grace. Our Lord helps us give what is necessary and grants His portion generously. Our Lord is no scrooge; let us be generous as He is generous, that we may all be satisfied in Him who loves us.
Let us pray: Lord, may your love be multiplied in us, that we may always give freely and generously to feed those hungry for food, love, companionship, compassion, and mercy. That through this work You have given to our human hands, the many may come to know You and love You. Amen.
Dear Eucharistic Family,
We have entered the Easter season abandoning our wills, grasping hold of our Heavenly Father’s hand, and imagining being in the Acts of the Apostles. The Kingdom of Heaven is our eternal reality, and we see it now through the Eucharist. I recently heard someone say we live in a hostile world. True, bizarre things are happening all around us. The God of all creation has called us by name. We are blessed to be invited to set fire to the earth with his love. The hostilities and unusual happenings will be taken over by a longing of the heart as humanity finds the sacred.
“Before birth the LORD called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (Isaiah 49:1)
I attended a summit this past week, a gathering of ministry leaders, with deacons, priests, and sisters present. The importance of the faithful coming together in prayer with the Eucharist, the Liturgy as the central focus, enraptured something new in me. We who love our Catholic Church have much work to do, together, to keep Christ alive in our world today.
Jesus tells us to “Do This in Memory of Me” (Luke 22:19). The Eucharist must be everything for us, as St. Peter Julian, the Apostle of the Eucharist, reminds us.
The Savior of the world, our risen Jesus, longs to heal, forgive and set fire to the earth. Miracles are waiting to happen. By grace, in deep silent prayer and the reception of Holy Communion, the Kingdom of Heaven will be brought to the world. The inner cenacle lives in our souls united to the heart of God during our consuming of the Sacred Host for us to become a consuming fire of love for our God. Miracles will happen. We will keep the Acts of the Apostles in motion by growing our Church in faith and love. Charity will fall into eternal life with us by our own apostolic lives.
One of the speakers at the summit recommended we create a personal mission statement, handwrite it, check it regularly, rewrite it quarterly, and follow up on its goals.
Imagine if we all make a conscious effort to be our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9), to pray for every person we encounter and take an interest in their souls. Our desire to become saints will be blessed in this effort.
I am in the middle of renewing my consecration to Jesus through Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. Each year our mother calls me to this time with her. Mary is with us always, yet going on retreat with her helps us be comforted in the care of a mother. She helps direct us and guides the fires Jesus would wish to be set. St. Peter Julian tells us the Eucharist can transform the bitterness of suffering in our lives. Mary is the one to show us this way to salvation.
What legacy of love can we leave upon this earth? Believe we will see a gift of God’s promise from the heavens one day, one that the faithful will take sight of as they see everything through the Eucharist.
Does this sound familiar to you? “It’s not your fault. You are not to blame… the fault lies somewhere else.” This seems to be the message behind most self-help programs out there… “this problem you have, it is not your fault, but you can fix it. You don’t need God. All you need is to follow these steps, because, after all… it is not your fault.” And guess what? We eat that stuff up. We love it when we can shift the blame. This started in the Garden of Eden when Eve said, “The serpent made me do it.” And then Adam said, “The woman made me do it.” We know how things turned out for them.
There was some truth in their statements… there were others involved in the scenario, but they still had freedom to choose, and they chose to disobey God. And when they were confronted with the truth, rather than take responsibility for their actions, they hid from God and from themselves. They could have pleaded to God for mercy, but perhaps, He had not revealed that part of Himself to them yet. Maybe they did not know how much He loved them. Perhaps they did not know He would be willing to die for them.
Contrast the message the world gives us (that nothing is our fault) with one of the prayers we say at Mass… striking at the breast we pray The Confiteor (I Confess):
“The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners. …To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults.” (CCC 1846-1847).
“Through my fault, through my fault, thought my most grievous fault…” It is when we admit that we sin through our own fault, and when we repent, that we open ourselves to receive God’s mercy. When we admit something is our fault, we have now something we can change. And we know God is at the ready, waiting for us to come to Him for help, for “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20).
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus has opened wide the gates of mercy and is waiting for us to come to Him. He sits at the confessional waiting, longing, ready to pour His grace on us. When we fail, let us not hesitate to run to Him and beg for mercy. And when things are truly not our fault, let us then be merciful to others. Let us forgive and extend the same mercy God has given us.
Let us then constantly accept that we have failed and that we need His mercy, that we need His love. This is the only self-help program we need… taking an honest look at ourselves, and saying, “I Confess…”
God is always speaking to us, showing us many things through our relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit walks with us; through the Eucharistic mystery, Christ is in us. Are we aware? Do we listen? Do we give Him the time and silence He needs to commune with us properly?
It never escapes me that the length of our Saturday of the Holy Week has been called the “long silence.” I always thought of this day as when our Lord was ‘gone,’ before He came back in His resurrected glory, but the more I think on it and embrace His silence, the more I am convicted that I have always had it backward. The silence is not His but ours. It is a gift for us, a moment chosen for us, so we can search closely for His teachings conveyed, not just in the words, but in the “being on the expectation of the moment,” in the waiting for what is to come.
It is not every day that I find myself without words to describe something, but when it happens, it is usually related to God. It is somewhat of a habit of mine that when a thought to ponder comes to mind, I write it down. Sometimes this is easy to do, like, “Remember that you were loved from the beginning,” to describe my parents’ acceptance of the fact that I was conceived and born of their love, a continuation of God’s love for them and me. But other times, it is not so simple, especially when trying to explain how God speaks to me. Nonetheless, I try to scribble some words to remind me later of the wisdom I received from Him.
It is good for us to write down what God has shared with us, ideas and concepts, in the hope that, in the future, we will be walking closer to God’s wisdom and may be able to both understand and express them better. That is probably why Our Lord Jesus spoke in parables. The scenes described in the parables contain the reality of His teachings much better than any sermon, definition, or description would. They engage our imagination and put us inside the scene. How would we put the fullness of that into words?
So, what are we to do? We must put in the time. We must separate ourselves from the bustle of the world for a bit and attempt to grab those images, feelings, and experiences and ponder on them so that we will grasp not just the words, but the meaning intended for us, and then maybe we write that down. And I think that it is a gift for us if we can do this. We can later sit down, apart from most, and read from these bits of wisdom that He has shared with us. It is part of deepening our faith and strengthening our relationship with Him who loves us. Yet, it is about more than writing and reading; it is about experiencing.
Christ died for us; He also comes back as the conqueror of death for us. This only sounds like words; in reality, it is world changing. The concept conveyed is more significant than we can describe, and maybe we fail to describe it adequately with words. Thus, let us invite ourselves to let go of words for a little while and experience what happens today and every day in our relationship with God. Let us find Christ Jesus in the very moments that define our lives and glean wisdom from His concepts, ideas, and thoughts, that we may experience Him; that during the long silence, His words may transcend beyond letters and sounds and become, for us, an authentic experience of life in Him.
Let us pray: Christ, you have died for our redemption. You also rose again to life so that we would live in the hope for eternal life in Heaven, help us live, paying attention to all You share with us. Help us gain more of Your wisdom every day so that we may grow ever closer to You. Amen.
Dearest Eucharist Family,
We will be sharing in the Sacred Triduum this coming Holy Week, 2022. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday; we imagine being with Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, palms waving, our Lord carried by a donkey; He is entering into his death. Jesus loves us more than life on earth; He dies to bring us to the heavens.
Have you ever suffered with someone? I am sure you have and can recall the love, sacrifice, and charity offered that relieved some of the pain in the situation. Have you stood at the foot of the Cross with another, loved someone in their suffering? Perhaps a friend or family member in agony of pain, physically, mentally, spiritually? Have you suffered such pain and been consoled by a compassionate, loving soul?
I believe we have all given and received in this respect and some to greater or lesser degrees. Whatever capacity we have offered to lighten the pain brings forth love in our world. Our mother, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of the Cenacle, is one to emulate. In his perfect plan, God Our Father gave His only begotten Son a mother. Jesus’s submission to Our Father’s will was ideally one in Mary’s fiat, “Let it be done to me” (Luke 1:37-38). They journeyed together to the Cross, Jesus, and Mary, His pain, her pain. Mary’s Immaculate Heart pierced, yet she suffered with her beloved one, her Son, Jesus.
Our hearts are pierced by many things, each carrying the Cross that will bring us to salvation. In our care, concern, and love for others, we see outside of ourselves into the entire Body of Christ. In the Eucharist, the suffering of the whole world is revealed. The inner cenacle of our souls sees a vast horizon of weakness and strengths, visions of goodness revealed in our quest to walk with another.
On Holy Thursday, the Apostles were not to be found; fear and self-interest led them astray.
Let us be attentive, let us check in with our neighbors, family, and friends to the best of our ability, and when our time is spent, let us do the most important, let us pray for them.
To my heart, some very dear people have suffered betrayal in marriage, sickness, and death. The immense pain brings us to the Cross, praying on our knees for those we love. The mystery of human fragility in which we live is changed in charity; love breaks through to the divine life, strengthening our humanity. The concupiscence of original sin can only be overcome by God’s grace. Our Lady’s tears are for the world, for God’s children. Her suffering was second to the pain she felt for others, the pain she endured with her Son in his Passion and Death. Mary’s love triumphs over sin and death.
Easter day is coming. In the Eucharist, we rise in this life, out of ourselves into the divine life and love for others.
Have a blessed and grace-filled Holy Week.
One day, I sat with my computer and began to write what I thought would be a reflection for this blog. My heart and mind, acting as one, poured words into my hands and onto the page, and, for a little while, words flowed effortlessly. But then, just as swiftly as they had begun, they stopped. Something in my heart told me… it was done.
I looked at what I had written; something was different. Rather than an essay, which is the form I usually use to express my thoughts, this looked like a poem. There were stanzas, and there was rhyme. When I read it, I really liked it. It was a prayer from deep inside. A song for my beloved, a piece of my heart.
But then came the question I always have to ask myself, should I share this with everyone? I knew deep down that this was not meant to be just for me, but doubts came over me. How could this be? I am not a poet. I do not even know if there are rules that should be followed. What if it is all wrong?
A year and a half went by.
One day, looking for something to write about, I came upon the saved file. I read it again, and I still liked it. It was still true; it was still fresh. Then came the question again… I wanted to share this, but the thought of putting this “out there” made me very uncomfortable. So I took that to prayer.
I realized that I was feeling vulnerable. This time I was not sharing a story, even a deeply personal one; I was not sharing my thoughts. This time, in sharing a poem, I would be sharing my heart. And that scared me. What if it was mocked, spat upon, rejected?
So, what did God do with me when I brought these questions to Him in prayer? He increased my desire to share it. It was as if He was saying, “Sing to me, my beloved. I want to hear your song.”
I would not be sharing my heart with the world. I would be letting them witness my love for God. Why? Because He asked me to… so that others may see the glory of God.
A few weeks ago, He gave me enough courage to share it, and I posted it on my social media accounts. For those of you who may not have seen it yet, I share with you my poem; I share with you my song.
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
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