Give them some yourselves….

I once worked with a young man who had some serious sin in his life.  If I am honest with you, I was a part of those sins from time to time.  His life had turned into one great big party that truly stemmed from a depression at the state of what had become his daily existence.   I once asked him why he didn’t try to do better, why he didn’t give up the drinking and the drugs, and go back to church.  His answer was one I will never forget: because I am chosen as I am.  Someone had spoken a prophecy over him as a young boy.  They said he would grow to serve the Lord.  He was informed that God didn’t expect him to change, but to keep being the person he was.  So he didn’t.

The person who spoke this ‘prophecy’ over him did it for his own good.   It was to encourage him to grow, to become closer to God.   I spoke to someone about it years later and they said yeah, I just wanted him to feel good about himself.   We see the result of that in both this young mans life, which to this day continues to spiral downward, and in the first reading of today’s Mass.  Hananiah tickled the ears of those around him.   Instead of giving them a true prophecy of God he comforted them with platitudes and encouragements to make them feel better.   As my grandfather would have said, “He tickled their ears.”  He told them what he felt would encourage them, make them feel better.. but it wasn’t the truth.  It cost Hananiah his life.   God is that serious about sin.  Lies are never to our good.

God is truth.  There is no duplicity in Him.  There are no lies in Him.  A man once told me that all relationships require lies, that at some point you have to lie to get along.   I disagree.  I prefer what Father Simon said the other day on the radio.   “Speak the truth in love, but you can’t love without speaking the truth.”  (paraphrased)   You see tickling someone’s ears.. telling them what they want to hear, instead of the truth… it doesn’t make things better.  It encourages them to continue on down that road.  One cannot repeat the same action, the same way, with the same people, in the same environment, over and over.. and expect a different outcome.   God wants us as members of Christ’s body to go out into the world armed with the truth, and to pass it on to others, always in love.

He wants us to be emboldened to do this.  So much so that in the Gospel Jesus reminds us that we are to be like Him in all things.   He asks us to feed others.  The disciples where looking out for the others.  They were concerned that they had not food and it was late.  Jesus, instead of sending them away, said “give them something yourselves.”   Here they were, with Christ, the living bread of life; yet they had no idea what to do.  Mary, at the wedding of Cana, gave us the premier example.   “Do whatever he tells you.”   You see, Jesus was about to feed the people the Truth.  Truth itself, incarnated in His own flesh.. the bread from Heaven.  He expects us to do the same.   He takes what little we offer, the meager small amounts, and He turns it into something divine.. a feast for the world.   That’s why we proceed to the altar with bread at Mass… we offer something so paltry, so meager.. and it becomes Christ himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.   Then He gives it to us and if we allow it, transforms us into living Christ’s… parts of His body.. to “go forth, glorifying the Lord by our lives.”

Are you feeding others?  The answer is yes… but what are you feeding them?  Remember this from the Gospel… Jesus had just lost his friend, his cousin.  John had been killed and Jesus was just trying to take some time alone.   When he saw all the men, women and children gathering around He did not explode in anger and demand they be sent away.   The Apostle’s likely had that in mind as well, that Jesus needed some time to grieve.. some time to recover.. but Jesus had pity on the crowds.   How do you respond when interrupted?   How do you respond to the presence of another in need when you yourself are in need?   Do you give them your bread?

His servant and yours,

“He must increase, I must decrease.”

A reflection on the readings for daily Mass on Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary time: August 1st, 2016.   Jeremiah 28:1-17; Psalm 119; A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 14:13-21