1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, 2 "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; 3 and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way." 4 And his disciples answered him, "How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?" 5 And he asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven."6 And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people.10 And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
It all began with the compassion, which is also an engagement divine towards the people who were like sheep without Shepheard. This is the fruit of observation and totally living in the present. The capacity to observe and live in the present do give us the wisdom to see the realities of life as it is and helps us to act upon.
It is in the same reality which, instead of looking outside, the means to act upon, search inside, within ourselves the available means to be used and be made available for others. Some of us, in our generosity to help others, very often look outside for the means and end up totally disappointed, because with the seven breads, how to feed the thousand?
The third aspect which is also very important to observe that nothing is left behind and everything is to be reused for another occasion. Just like the one who received five talents, we too should put everything available within us in use. The more we put them in service, the more it will produce fruit. All that we would desire to preserve, it should be made available for others.
«They have nothing to eat»
Fr. Carles ELÍAS i Cao
Today, in our times of inclemency and anxiety, Jesus also calls us to tell us he feels «sorry for these people» (Mk 8:2). Today, with the peace process in crisis, fear, apathy, banality and evasion may abound: «and now have nothing to eat».
Whom is the Lord calling to? The text says: «So Jesus called his disciples» (Mk 8:1), that is, He calls me, not to send them home hungry, to give them something to eat. Jesus sympathizes with them —this time in heathen land— because they are hungry.
But, alas! Sheltered in our little world, we say we can do nothing about it. «Where in a deserted place like this could we get enough bread to feed these people?» (Mk 8:4). Where shall we find a true and firm word of hope while knowing the Lord will be with us every day till the end of time? How can we tell the believers and the non-believers that violence and death are no solution?
Today, the Lord simply asks us how many loaves have we. Whatever we have, this is what He needs. The text says «seven», a symbol for the heathen, just as twelve was a symbol for the Jewish people. The Lord wants to reach us all —this is why the Church, from its Catholicism, wants to recognize itself— and is asking for your help. Give Him your prayer: it is a loaf of bread! Give Him the Eucharist you have celebrated: it is another loaf of bread! Give Him your decision to reconcile with those you love, with those that have offended you: still another loaf of bread! Give Him your sacramental reconciliation with the Church: another loaf! Give Him your little sacrifice, your fasting, your solidarity: and still another loaf! Give Him your love for his Word that soothes and gives you strength: more bread! Anyway, give Him whatever He asks from you, though you may believe it is not worthwhile.
As St. Gregory of Nyssa says: «He who splits his bread with the poor becomes a part of He who, for us, wanted to be poor. The Lord was poor; do not be afraid of poverty».