At the 5 p.m. Mass yesterday at the New Brunswick Oratory of St. Philip Neri, the priest's homily illuminated the Gospel reading in such a way that I emerged from church feeling more hope about myself and my place in the world than I have all week.
The story about Christ multiplying fishes and loaves so that a crowd of 5,000 families could be fed is perhaps one of the best known examples of his public ministry. It appears in every Gospel. (Today's reading is from Matthew) This story is so well known, in fact, I never bothered to meditate on it. (Painting here by Italian Baroque artist Bernardo Strozzi)
Father Tom Odorizzi, C.O. , began by explaining that Christ, when faced with a big crowd and only five loaves and two fishes, easily could have multiplied the loaves and fishes Himself. Instead, He blesses the food and asks his disciples to come up with a solution.
The message here is that whatever limited resources we have, no matter how modest our incomes or how limited our patience, we need to offer what we have, through Christ, to serve others. Even if all we have is pain and suffering, Father Tom told us, we can offer that up to the Lord.
And then Father Tom went on to talk about the Eucharistic Prayer. We don't offer pieces of grain and grapes to be consecrated. No, we offer bread and wine "the work of human hands." In other words, we cooperate with God's grace.
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this wine to
offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink.
Our work is transformed through Christ. This happens in the Eucharist. It also happens every day in our homes. I am neither the tidiest of housekeepers, nor the most patient of wives or mothers. But God placed this family and this vocation before me. So when I understand the relationships He brought to me are transformed through the gaze of Christ, I allow grace to unfold.