NOT WELFARE, BUT WELL-FARE

“He took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. All ate until they were full.” –Matthew 15:36-37

Today’s Scripture readings all foreshadow the blessed feast which is celebrated at Mass in Holy Communion. The rich feast (Is 25:6) celebrated at the banquet table (see Ps 23:5) to nourish the multitudes (Mt 15:38) is the Eucharist we receive at every Mass. The word “Eucharist” even means “to give thanks.”

The thanksgiving described in today’s Scripture readings is not just saying “Gee, thanks, God.” Eucharist occurs in the context of the Mass, a word that means “sent.” In the Mass are elements of sacrifice, worship, receiving the Eucharist, giving thanks, being sent. The response God desires is a thankful lifestyle of obedient faith and loving service. The spirit of the Eucharist is not just to “get” but moreover to “give,” including a never-ending giving of thanks to the Lord.

Those who received the loaves and fishes in John’s Gospel responded by wanting to make Jesus King (Jn 6:15). Jesus wants to be more than a provider, even so much more than a King. Yes, He promises to “provide” (Is 25:6) but He wants us to be disciples, not mere recipients. The Lord is not building a welfare state of those who only receive but never move out of the state of simply being fed. Rather, Jesus is building a kingdom of disciples who feed His lambs (Jn 21:15-17) in thankful, loving service.

PRAYER: Jesus, You call Your disciples to feed Your people (Mt 15:36; Lk 12:42). I will thankfully distribute Your blessings.
PROMISE: “Behold our God, to Whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for Whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!” –Is 25:9
PRAISE: St. Francis so identified with the poor to whom he preached the good news that he slept on the ground in a hut and ate mainly rice and water for the seven years he was with them.

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