2 Kings 4:42-44
I write this reflection from a Benedictine monastery perched on a mountaintop in Big Sur, California-overlooking the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Having traveled to the Holy Land, I can attest that my current landscape is very similar to the prospect enjoyed by the faithful gathered with Jesus as described in today’s Gospel reading.
During my present retreat, I took time to read and reflect upon Pope Benedict’s latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate-hot off the press. In many ways, Charity in Truth connects beautifully with today’s gospel reading. It is emphasized in the encyclical that the transcendent is made known through our quest for knowledge of God in communion (as a community.) The breaking of bread brings hope and builds the community of faith in our world.
Today’s reading from Matthew which describes the multiplication of the loaves and fish (also related in the gospels of Mark, Luke and John) challenges each of us to consider how we can provide for our hungry world-both literally and spiritually. Clearly, charity in truth as revealed in the multiplication of the loaves and fish, provided an important revelation of God’s mission in our world-and our mission today as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to be in communion with our world and to care for our human family. Pope Benedict’s encyclical reminds us of our rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and inspires us to live out this call.
At a Passionists meeting a few years ago, UN delegate Fr. Kevin Dance, CP, reported some alarming statistics. 790 million men, women and children were suffering from malnutrition and starvation, and 1.3 million people lacked access to clean water. And, by 2012 the population of the world is projected to be 7 billion, and ½ of these people will live in extreme poverty. Recently published statistics from the UN project that we will soon have over 1 billion individuals suffering from hunger.
Like the disciples in today’s gospel, we too may feel overwhelmed and discouraged when confronted with the enormity of the needs in our community and world. "Send the crowds away" might be our response as well. But, if we are truly called to be a living Christian community, we must reach out beyond our boundaries-as Jesus modeled. Our commitment to a Eucharistic life must inspire us to take action on behalf of those in need. May our communal actions be inspired by Caritas in Veritate…Charity in Truth!
(Written on the Feast of St. Benedict.)
Angela Howell ([email protected]) is a retreatant and volunteer at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California.