It is easy to fall into the temptation that we need the newest style in fashion, more money, and esteem. Yet, when it comes to eternal life, all this does not matter. At the close of Kraków’s closing Mass of 2.5 million Catholic youth, Pope Francis spoke similar words:
“No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”
As we look towards our week, we must turn to the sacraments, scriptures, and prayer, and as central necessities to our day and for our lives. These things orient us for heaven and a communion with God that brings us joy.
At times, we keep ourselves busy …. or rather, we keep ourselves occupied because there is a longing within all of us to be filled. In today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:13-21), our Lord’s heart was moved with pity for the vast crowd that followed him. He charged the disciples to go and feed the hungry themselves. Here, he gives us the Church to go about the mission of Christ and to administer the sacraments.
Scripture. There is this fascinating detail in Matthew’s account. Our Lord ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. And after this the miracle of the loaves and fishes took place. Why does Matthew insert this minor detail of the grass? We have to turn to the psalms.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he makes me lie down in green pastures. He lads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” ~Psalm 23:1-3
Matthew was using the word as a signal to the identity of Christ – Good Shepherd. He who multiplies the loaves and fishes, he who cures the sick, will provide for everything we need. He will be a shepherd to us, leading us to places of tranquility and peace. And of course, at the end of today’s Gospel, we hear that there was more than enough left over. As we look towards this generous God, pray for the spirit of thanksgiving.
Finally, a piece from Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church whose memory we celebrate today. He was founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist). He wrote extensively on moral theology and promoted devotion to the Eucharist. He has spoken on the intimate love God has for us:
Has not God in fact won for himself a claim on all our love? From all eternity he has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared in the light of day, nor did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From all eternity I have loved you.”
But he did not wish to give us only beautiful creatures; the truth is that to win for himself our love, he went so far as to bestow upon us the fullness of himself. The eternal Father went so far as to give us his only Son. When he saw that we were all dead through sin and deprived of his grace, what did he do? Compelled, as the Apostle says, by the superabundance of his love for us, he sent his beloved Son to make reparation for us and to call us back to a sinless life.
By giving us his Son, whom he did not spare precisely so that he might spare us, he bestowed on us at once every good: grace, love and heaven; for all these goods are certainly inferior to the Son: He who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for all of us: how could he fail to give us along with his Son all good things?
Jesus, giving our lives to him and spending our days listening to him is the only thing that matters for eternity. May we spend our days for Jesus who loves us for us and not for what we own.