In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.”
Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed.
They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the New American Bible translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass, the disciples’ question is translated “where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them in this deserted place?” Basically, in a place that seems devoid of nourishment, how can we find what we need?
While the disciples are speaking literally, this is also a question we may ask ourselves when it comes to our own prayer and spiritual lives. Even St. Teresa of Calcutta, someone we think of as having a rich interior spiritual life, struggled to see God at times. In our world that can sometimes seem devoid of kindness and compassion, it can be easy to miss God’s presence. But just as the physical needs of the 4,000 were met by Jesus, so too can our need for a deeper connection to Christ be met simply by making our needs known.
What is a need in your heart that you can bring to prayer today?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
Jesus, hear my prayer. If this pleases you, if my pain and suffering, my darkness and separation gives you a drop of consolation, my own Jesus do with me as you wish, as long as you wish, without a single glance at my feelings and pain. I am your own. Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of your heart. Don’t mind my feelings; don’t mind even my pain, if my suffering separation from you brings others to you, and in their love and company you find joy and pleasure.
—St. Teresa of Calcutta in a letter to Jesus, from Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light