January 4, 2011
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat." He said to them in reply, "Give them some food yourselves." But they said to him, "Are we to buy two hundred days' wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?" He asked them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out they said, "Five loaves and two fish." So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up 12 wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were 5,000 men.
Introductory Prayer: Lord I am nothing without you in my mission. I believe that there is no difficulty in deepening my union with you that cannot be overcome. I want to know and see with greater clarity that your hand moves mine. You make possible what would otherwise be impossible.
Petition: Lord increase my confidence and dependence on you.
1. “His Heart Was Moved with Pity for Them, for They Were like Sheep Without a Shepherd.”
A heart that loves expands to meet the needs of those it loves. None could love as perfectly as Christ. Will I let Christ move me in this prayer to see what he sees, suffer what he suffers, and love what he loves? Who will teach the vast numbers of those who are lost, especially the young? Who will console the sorrowing who fight the pervasive darkness of despair, and guide with fidelity the hungry souls ready for the fullness of God’s truth? Who can make present the power of the Shepherd to heal and stay the force of evil in so many dark corners of the world? If I open my heart to see what Christ sees, I will follow everyday what he asks of me to remedy a broken world that needs salvation.
2. Give Them Some Food Yourselves
Our Lord insists that we be active protagonists in tackling the most difficult problems in the world. Many only sigh at the world’s miseries as if to say, “Lord, you have a problem. I will pray for them.” Christ looks back and says to us, “This is your mission now. I put it in your hands.” Will we panic? Will we wonder where we will get the time, the resources, the wisdom? Will we imagine ourselves making it all happen? Our Lord asks us to take responsibility, but he does not want us taking control. There is a difference: One is the steward in the mission—us; the other the owner—God. Taking responsibility means making the needs of souls and the Church our own. Not taking control means we never lose sight of the one who controls the plan. I want to do it his way, and not mine.
3. How Many Loaves Do You Have?
When Christ chooses us for a mission, he does not select us because he thinks we have what it takes, but rather because he knows he will give us all that we need. Sometimes we are faced with goals that are real, yet beyond our power to accomplish. Anxiety––thinking we need to be superhuman before a superhuman endeavor––inserts all sorts of complexes into the human spirit: shutting down, feeling overwhelmed, uncontrolled anger, unjustly limiting our field of action. What does Christ ask when we face the impossible? Just give what we have––give it all and don’t hold back. Put all our loaves and fishes on the table, and then Christ will work. Believe in the power of our poor nothingness united to Christ.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, I believe in the power of my nothingness united to your power and grace. Today I accept the challenge of the mission before me, but only if I take each step depending on you. With you every burden is sweet, and every impossible task is a new encounter with the power of your hand.
Resolution: I will stop sometime in the middle of the day to spiritually place what I am doing into Christ’s hands.
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