EVERYDAY PRAYER

Memorial of Saint Scholastica (†547ca), sister of Saint Benedict. With her we remember all women hermits and nuns together with all the women who follow the Lord.


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 a second multiplication of the loaves. Unlike the first, here we are in pagan territory, and the language Mark 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 his preaching. Jesus himself, certainly moved by their attention, takes the initiative so that they will not return home without eating, especially because it has gotten very late. "Compassion" moves Jesus to deal also with this aspect for the people who were listening to him. Compassion is a word chosen by the evangelists to describe the attitude of Jesus for the abandoned crowds, for the sick who were not cured, for the poor who were excluded. The term indicates the maternal love of Jesus, the same love that moved the Good Samaritan toward the half-dead man abandoned 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 communicates his concern for that crowd to his disciples. But once again he clashes with their narrow-mindedness. Giving heed to their "reasonableness," they answer that it is not possible to feed so many people in a desert. How often we think that we should be realistic! Yet Jesus had said, "All things can be done for the one who believes." And they did not remember the previous miracle of the multiplication. Once again it is Jesus who takes the initiative: "How many loaves do you have?" "Seven," the disciples respond, almost challenging 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; Jesus needs the disciples, he needs us, so he can repeat the miracle of the multiplication of a food that will be enough everyone. The fact that it takes place a second time and in a pagan territory indicates that the bread is to be multiplied 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 ourselves, otherwise no miracle will ever happen.