In celebrating the Epiphany of the Lord on Sunday, we were reminded that for God there are no outsiders. All of creation is under the bright Light that came when Jesus Christ was born (“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” John 1). The ‘revelation’ of God in Jesus Christ was to bring about more clearly the universal love of God. Everyone can pray “our” Father. No one is excluded. Everyone is included in God’s circle of love, and therefore every single person in this world is my sister or brother. I am called to live my life in ways that show respect and love for God’s family.
The readings today amplify the theme of this great revelation of God’s love. The breaking of the bread and its being shared is a symbol of the life of the Christian community, where all the resources of the community are shared. In fact, resources mysteriously seem to multiply as people share with one another. Additionally, there was bread and fish left over to share with those who were not present.
Notice that Jesus does not distribute the bread and fish himself. He asked his disciples to help him. Is that how Jesus acts today? People come to know Jesus today through our thoughtful deeds and words. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.”
Like the fragments of bread and fish, God’s love is in abundance. As it flows into you, let it flow beyond you to others. It is impossible to separate God’s love for me and my love for others. We cannot have one without the other. Our Christian life, then, is about being loving persons. As St Paul the Apostle says in his famous passage in the first letter to the Corinthians, “If I have not love, I am nothing.”
The source of my ability to love, especially when I don’t feel like showing love, is not within myself. “Love consists in this: not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us.” The evidence is in God’s sending “his son as an offering for our sins”. Our Founder, St. Paul of the Cross, powerfully preached that Jesus, hanging on the cross, is the most dramatic sign of God’s love for us, a love that is entirely free and never earned by any action of mine.
Look at Jesus on the Cross, offer a prayer of gratitude to him and then go and pass that love to anyone you meet today. Let the Light shine brighter as you help Jesus distribute the bread and fish.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is director of the Province Office of Mission Effectiveness (OME). He resides in Chicago.