December 5 / First Wednesday of Advent
Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.” ~ Matthew 15:32
All of us occasionally have “last straw” moments in our lives, when we feel we simply cannot bear the weight of one more demand. Addressing family needs, satisfying work expectations, dealing with patients or students or clients or colleagues — all these can wring us dry, particularly at this time of year. We may feel depleted, unable to give anything more — and then that last straw lands on our backs with the force of a bushel of bricks, and we feel ourselves on the verge of collapse. Such moments are precisely the occasions in which God challenges us to imitate the patience and generosity of Christ in today’s Gospel. Jesus has just concluded three exhausting days healing the crowds on a rugged hilltop by the Sea of Galilee. As Matthew tells it, he has made the mute speak, the deformed whole, the lame walk and the blind see.
We can imagine the emotional and physical intensity of these three days and how drained Jesus must have felt at their end. Yet in this moment of supreme exhaustion, when a new problem arises — the crowd’s hunger — Christ still gives of himself. He calls his disciples together and expresses concern for the people. At a moment when he might understandably have nothing left to give, he draws on a deep reserve of generosity to give still more, thereby creating abundance out of insufficiency. The next time we face a situation that threatens to push us beyond our capacity, we might try to turn it into an opportunity for compassionate self-giving instead. We can respond not with “I’ve had it!” but rather with “I have it,” knowing that with God’s help, we do possess the generosity of spirit that is needed for this moment.
God of the loaves and fishes, throughout the busy day, grant me the grace to give to others lovingly and faithfully, even—and especially—when I feel least able to do so.Amen.