Sunday Vigil

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 8, 1-10

And now once again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So he called his disciples to him and said to them,

'I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat.

If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.'

His disciples replied, 'Where could anyone get these people enough bread to eat in a deserted place?'

He asked them, 'How many loaves have you?' And they said to him, 'Seven.'

Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and began handing them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd.

They had a few small fishes as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed too.

They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over.

Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away

and at once, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist Mark, like Matthew, tells about another multiplication of the loaves. Unlike the first, here we are in pagan territory, and the language he uses reflects this peculiarity. Here, too, a large crowd gathers around Jesus. It is touching to see the care with which these people, although not belonging to the Jewish religion, hear the words of the young prophet of Nazareth. Jesus himself, certainly moved by the attention they have paid in listening, takes the initiative so that they will not return home without eating, especially because it has gotten very late. “Compassion” moves Jesus toward them. Compassion is a typical attitude of Jesus in the Gospels. It indicates the maternal love of Jesus, the same love that moved the Good Samaritan to the poor fellow on the roadside. What a difference with us who listen so little to the Word of Jesus, and even less allow it to touch our heart! Jesus expresses his concern for that crowd to his disciples as if to ask for their co-responsibility. But once again he clashes with their narrow-mindedness. They, giving heed to their “reasonableness,” and perhaps thinking that Jesus is as usual exaggerating, answer that it is not possible to feed so many people in a desert, as if Jesus had not realized the difficulty. The disciples believe more in their wisdom than in Jesus’ words. How often we hear that we must be realistic. Charity is all right, Christian love is fine, but we certainly cannot care for all the poor, all the immigrants! Yet Jesus will say, “All things can be done for the one who believes” (Mk 9:23). But even if they did not remember these words, as often happens to us who forget the Gospel, the disciples should still have thought about the miracle of the multiplication that Jesus accomplished before. Once again it is Jesus who takes the initiative: “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” the disciples respond, as if to challenge Jesus. He has the loaves brought to him, takes them in his hands and then gives them to the disciples to distribute. Jesus involves us in the miracle, as he did with the disciples. In fact, the loaves are multiplied just as the disciples distribute them. Jesus needs the disciples; he needs us, so as to repeat the miracle of the multiplication of a food that may be sufficient for everyone. The fact that it takes place a second time and in a pagan territory indicates that the bread is to be multiplied in every time and in every land. Wherever there is need for bread, love, help, support, the disciples are called to bring, multiply and distribute it. Always. Each one will give what he or she has, even if it is little. The important thing is not to keep all to yourself, otherwise no miracle will ever happen.