Mary Moritz, a Maryknoll Affiliate from Northeast Florida, reflects on God's care for us and on our call to give physical and spiritual nourishment to our neighbors in turn.
The first reading today tells of a hungry Israelite community that grumbled against Moses and Aaron. God responds by sending them quail and bread so that they might know that “I, the LORD, am your God.”
In the responsorial psalm, the Israelites no longer grumble, but now marvel at the “glorious deeds of the Lord,” who “gave them bread from heaven.” They promise to declare the wonders that God wrought to the generation to come. Once they are fed, how different their response is! The grumbling community turns into one that praises God.
The second reading exhorts them and us to be renewed, to “put on the new self.” God’s way is one of righteousness and holiness.
In the Gospel, the crowd gets into boats and goes to Capernaum, looking for Jesus. Once they find him, Jesus talks about bread and invites them to work for the food that endures. Jesus says He is the bread of life: “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Jesus knows that humans need to eat and drink to nourish our bodies, but he also invites us to tend to the nourishment of our souls.
On the physical food side, my husband and I have helped feed the homeless in our area for many years. We help prepare a meal at our parish each month and serve it to the homeless in our area – each local church takes a turn. We love being part of this ministry. I hope our guests feel the love we serve along with the food, and that we nurture both their bodies and their souls. When one of them thanks me with a spontaneous “God bless you,” I am truly blessed.
Like the crowd in the Gospel, I have looked for Jesus. I find Him in the volunteers who lovingly prepare meals for the homeless, and I find Him in the people who come through the food line.
I also find Jesus in the women I minister to at the local jail. A friend and I bring a different kind of food to our ecumenical jail ministry. We are not allowed to bring anything physical there. What we bring, instead, is a Bible reflection that we share with the incarcerated women who choose to join us. As we break open the word of God, we hope to bring them the food that endures.
For many of the women at the jail, this difficult time is an opportunity to reflect on where God is calling them to change, how they might put on their new self. We try to give them a safe place to be open to God’s message. As they share themselves, their goodness touches my heart. I hope that God uses us to help open theirs. I know that they have opened mine.
When Jesus spoke to the crowd at Capernaum, the Last Supper had yet to happen. When Jesus broke the bread, gave it to the disciples, and told us to do the same, he gave us a gift that ensured we would always be fed. He feeds us and this empowers us to feed others. We are His hands and feet in the world today.
Photo: Mary Moritz (right) preparing a meal for those who are homeless with her husband and friend. Courtesy of Mary Moritz.