1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34
Some of us Passionists, vowed and lay, have had the privilege of serving at the LOAVES AND FISHES soup kitchen in downtown Sacramento, California. In the years I volunteered, 1985-89, the building was ramshackled, yet the sign out front, bold letters on a green sign, pointed to hope. On Mondays, people from various Catholic and other Christian churches, many inclined to charismatic prayer, came and diced onions, carrots, cut meat, opened cans, etc., all for the hundreds of people that would come for the noon meal. Our leaders, Roberto or Ann, led us in prayer. So often, after giving thanks, we prayed that God would send someone with some extra meat or pasta or fruit, whatever was still needed for a well-balanced meal. EVERY SINGLE TIME GOD PROVIDED. "How many loaves do you have?", Jesus asked the disciples. They gave what they had and Jesus multiplied their supply for all. So much so that there were leftovers. God will provide, God always provides, we just have to ask and do our part.
In contrast, Jeroboam, in today’s first reading is anxious about his standing: "…the hearts of this people will return to their master…" He stands in for any of us (we could say greedy bankers or dishonest politicians, but in reality all of us) when we take our eyes off of God’s goodness and Providence. We hear sadly at the end this reading that Jeroboam’s house "was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth."
As we stand on the cusp of Lent, we know God’s constant reminders to us to mirror his goodness to others in our lives. By simple acts of sharing of loaves of bread, of fish, of our moments of giving attention to the needs of others, the reign of God breaks out.
Fr. Bob Bovenzi, C.P. is stationed in Houston, Texas.