In today’s Gospel, Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee and encounters “great crowds” of needy folks: the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute. And their friends placed them at Jesus’ feet, and He cured them! Noting their hunger, Jesus then lovingly fed them with the seven loaves of bread and the few fish that his disciples had brought along. With lots of leftovers… Wow…
I can’t help but think of the crowds of recent days…shoppers, travelers – “needy” folks, on the move, like long ago. Some in search of a bargain or a get-together; some troubled in mind or body. Jesus today wants to meet their needs, to cure their aches and pains and feed their spirits…with a great “feast” that God provides, as in today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah.
For most people of times past and present, bread is a fundamental source of nourishment, and therefore a symbol of what’s needed to sustain life. And these holidays, who of us can resist the inviting aroma of fresh-baked bread and the warm feelings that bread inspires? No wonder Jesus’ healing love included bread — ultimately His very Life in the Eucharist.
This Advent we journey as people of hope – needy, hungry people seeking Jesus who is “Bread for the Life of the world” – Life that is wholesome and lasts! We look to the great event of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (“House of Bread”), to Jesus’ presence in our midst in the Eucharist and the Scriptures and one another, as well as the great coming of Jesus at the end of all time. These days we’re invited to open our hearts to God who meets our human needs, nourishes us, and loves us unconditionally. Advent celebrates the transformation and fulfillment of all creation in Jesus!
And so, as Church, we humbly pray: Come, Lord Jesus!
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the Vocation Director for Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.