Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 3:9-24 Psalm 90:2.3-4.5-6.12-13 Mark 8:1-10
The Gospel account according to Mark is rich in narratives of miraculous events. In the same Gospel of Mark, we find two miracles on the feeding of the crowd. In the first one there were five thousand people fed (Mk 6:34-44) and in the second, which is our reading for today, there were four thousand fed. Right from the creation of man God has been providing for him. In the garden of Eden, as we read in book of Genesis, there was no need for man to work for food. God gave them all the plants and animals as food; and when they were hungry in the desert, he sent to them manna from heaven (Ex16:4). In the present time, just as God cared for His people, He continues to care for us all and feed us through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Before feeding the crowd, Jesus had compassion on them, which means he shared their pain and suffering, I believe not only of physical hunger but also spiritual hunger. The reason why Jesus had compassion on them is that they had been with him for three days. The number three here stands for completeness and perfection; it means they were with Him both body and soul. They where not with Him just for food as we read in John 6:26. They gave up everything to be with Jesus, to listen to Him; they were so attached to the message of Jesus in a sense that they could not eat for three days. Here, it is Jesus himself who takes the initiative to feed them for He knew that besides spiritual food, they need the physical food to sustain them. Like these people, anyone abides in Jesus, will have his needs provided for. Before we ask for anything, our Lord Jesus knows our needs and He provides for us accordingly (Phil 4:6).
As Christians, many of us find it hard to remain with Jesus for half an hour per week in adoration or for two hours at Mass on Sundays and yet we can remain hours and hours on our phones. These people in today’s Gospel come from far, they left everything, they probably sacrificed their weekend just to be with Jesus. So, as they were preparing to go back to their daily activities, Jesus will bless the work of their hands; from seven loaves and a little bit of fish, they ate, were satisfy and they took up broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.
Similarly, just like the number three, seven also stands for perfection and completeness. It is clear that they received everything for which they stood in need. Jesus gave them without measure. He gave them fully even without their asking. Jesus blessed them with this lovely gift for one reason “because they have been with me now three days.” This is the kind of heart that gets Jesus attention: the open heart, the listening heart, the heart needy for a word from God. Dear brothers and sisters, when was the last time you read the Bible on your own? When was the last time you participated in a recollection or a retreat just to be with Jesus for a while?
While the first reading presents to us the ingratitude of man by disobeying God’s command, the Gospel calls our attention to the compassionate heart of God who is ready to welcome and bless us with all what we need. Come back to the Church, to Jesus, do not be afraid!
Let us pray Lord God, your Son Jesus taught us that you are a compassionate God who knows the needs of his people and forgives our sins whenever we come back to you acknowledging our inwardness. Give us courage and strength to come back and remain with You. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen!