The Eucharistic overtones of our gospel today in the familiar story of feeding 5000 is clear. In the same way as at the last supper, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it. Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for the large crowd. They were hungry, not only for earthly food, but for food that lasts and gives them strength for living. The needs of the crowd were met with the gift of the in-breaking of God’s kingdom, embodied in the very person and presence of Jesus Christ.
We are called to be that presence of Jesus today. If we are the presence of the risen Christ, then we too are breaking in to God’s kingdom when we reach out with compassion to satisfy the needs of others, and put our own wants second.
We need to see in our self-sacrifices that we embrace the very presence of God, and so share in the life of Christ. Like Jesus, our compassion carries with it the foretaste of eternal life. This places our everyday life in a whole different context and so we are better able to see how our little dying to self leads to rising and eternal life. We too, can be icons to help others see and seek eternal life.
Self-sacrifice is part of our lives as followers of Jesus. It becomes more and more apparent when we move from discipleship to apostleship… when we become more and more confident that Jesus actually does influence of daily decisions.
One of our responsibilities, for example, is to take care of our needs and the needs of our family ~ not necessarily all our wants. In looking very carefully at what we need versus what we want, we end up placing material things and money in their proper perspective.
Stewardship of treasure asks only a percentage of income ~ not the whole thing. Many people find that when they trust in God and return a certain percentage of their income to the Church and other charities rather than a certain dollar amount, they can live adequately on the rest of their income. That percentage is something people decide in prayer and after due consideration of their needs and the needs of a family.
Take a moment to look at your weekly contribution and figure out what percent of your income that gift actually is. When I was growing up, my family contributed two hours of my father’s salary each week. It was easier to figure that out than to follow some other formula for giving. Although we never had a whole lot, we were never lacking.