Sunday, July 31, 2011

Loaves, Fishes and the Gaze of Christ

Maybe my ear infection is giving me a sense of disequilibrium, but the past few days I have been feeling like nothing more than the sum of my deficiencies as a wife and mother. As I watch my "I" in action, I see someone who is crabby and not terribly organized.

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
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.


  1. I like this very much. Those are great insights.

    When I look at my "I" in action, I go "bleh!" And I don't have an ear infection. But there is something revealed even in the "bleh"--a sense of dissatisfaction with myself. Why am I disappointed? I want to be more, and I am falling short? Falling short of what? We can propose ideals and standards, but who ever "gets there," really? What we really want is a mystery, THE Mystery.

  2. Two things. 1) the passage John quotes above? This sounds like something Blaise Pascal wrote.

    Self-love. — The nature of self-love and of this human Ego is to love self only and consider self only. But what will man do? He cannot prevent this object that he loves from being full of faults and wants. He wants to be great, and he sees himself small. He wants to be happy, and he sees himself miserable. He wants to be perfect, and he sees himself full of imperfections. He wants to be the object of love and esteem among men, and he sees that his faults merit only their hatred and contempt. This embarrassment in which he finds himself produces in him the most unrighteous and criminal passion that can be imagined; for he conceives a mortal enmity against that truth which reproves him and which convinces him of his faults. He would annihilate it, but, unable to destroy it in its essence, he destroys it as far as possible in his own knowledge and in that of others; that is to say, he devotes all his attention to hiding his faults both from others and from himself, and he cannot endure either that others should point them out to him, or that they should see them.

    2) I went to Reconciliation yesterday and confessed, and apologized, for all my short comings as a parent. I feel waay better today. :)