Sunday, July 31, 2016

Reflection for the 18th Week of Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Give Them Some Food

It had been a long day...a good one...but still long. Jesus' disciples were tired and hungry, and they figured that the rest of the crowd was, too, so they asked Jesus to dismiss the people so they could go purchase some food. But Jesus had a surprise for them. “There is no need for them to go away;” He said, “give them some food yourselves.”

The disciples must have stared at each other in shock and confusion. All they had handy were five loaves and two fish...certainly not enough to feed more than five thousand people.

We know what Jesus did, of course. He multiplied the loaves and fish until everyone ate and was satisfied. There were even leftovers.

We might struggle to see how this story applies to us, but it definitely does because Jesus tells us, too, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” He need not be speaking of literal food (although sometimes that may be the case). Instead, He may be encouraging us to give of our attention. A simple smile and a kind word can be just the kind of spiritual food another person needs. Perhaps our gift might be a listening ear or a helping hand. We might be called to share our faith with someone or to use our talents for another's benefit.

We all have something to offer, and when we do, if we offer it in union with Jesus, He will multiply our “food” so that it reaches far beyond our expectations. We may not see the results, but Jesus does.

Lord, You have called us to feed those around us. Give us discerning hearts that we may know how to do so, and unite our gifts with Yourself that all those who receive them will also receive You. Amen.

Tuesday – Prayer in Solitude

Look at what Jesus does at the beginning of today's Gospel. He goes up a mountain to pray in solitude. He meets His Father and spends time with Him. This passage doesn't tell us exactly how Jesus prays, but we know from other verses that He joins His whole self to the Father, communicates with Him about everything, and lifts up all those He came to save, presenting them to His Father with confidence. Jesus' prayer is a union of love.

Is our prayer similar? Do we take the time to pray in solitude, to reach out to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Who are always reaching out to us? Do we give ourselves to God in trusting humility? Do we tell Him everything about our lives? Do we share with Him our most intimate thoughts and feelings? Do we lift up others in confidence? Is our prayer a union of love?

If we can't answer an honest “yes” to these questions, then it might be time to reexamine our prayer life, to make some chances for the better, to reconnect with God. He is always waiting for us, and He answers every single prayer we make...perhaps not the way we would want but exactly the way we need.

Today, then, take at least a few moment to follow Jesus' example of prayer in solitude. It may just make all the difference in the world...and in eternity.

Wednesday – Age-old Love

“With age-old love I have loved you...” God's love spans eternity. He loves us more than we can ever imagine with a love stronger than we can understand. It's a love that stands outside time and space yet reaches in to interact with the beloved. It's a love that is permanent; no matter what we do, God will never stop loving us. It's a love that deals with each person perfectly according to that individual's needs. It's a love that can seem tough sometimes, for it corrects faults and punishes sin for our own good. It's a love so tender that it lifts up the weakest penitents and lavishes them with forgiveness. It's a love that lasts forever, an age-old love that never dies. That's God's great love for us, His children.

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