The love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom 8, 39)
Jesus sets a table before us in the sight of our foes. He wants us to have our fill of God’s goodness, to know more intimately his Father and be imbued with his Spirit so that we may love one another better.
Like the Shepherd of Israel, the Good Shepherd makes sure his flock lacks nothing. He orders the people to sit down on the grass, as the sheep are made to lie down in green pastures. He then blesses and multiplies a small and anonymous contribution, and makes use of the disciples for the distribution. About five thousand eat to their satisfaction, not counting women and children. Moreover, leftover fragments fill twelve wicker baskets. That is how effective Jesus’ tender compassion is. He is the embodiment of God’s goodness and kindness that follow us all the days of our lives.
Without doubt, we are moved with pity when we see the misery of our brothers and sisters, and hear about the humanitarian crisis at the borders of developed countries, for example. But are we not among the infertile who, according to St. Vincent de Paul (Coste XI:40), stop at pious platitudes? Nowadays, women and children who are undocumented immigrants certainly get counted. But what good is there really in counting them, if we do nothing for them?
Jesus welcomes those who seek to be nourished by his healing and life-giving words even in a deserted place and till late. He does not send anybody away. How about us? Do we not prefer that they be deported, those who, attracted to our countries and probably misinformed, brave the terror of the night and the dangers in deserted places? Do we no longer believe that in every crisis we will conquer overwhelmingly through him who has loved us?
Do we lack completely the creativity of Christian love that teaches us to turn times of misfortune and trial into times of grace and acquittal, to share our possessions and become Jesus’ humble instruments, without craving for recognition? Do we avail, responsive to the promptings of the Spirit, of every opportunity to make a contribution so that the poor may eat and have their fill, recover their strength and, above all, experience God’s comforting and saving presence?
We Christians can keep on partaking of the Lord’s Table in the security of our churches. But if we let anyone go hungry or shame those who have nothing or treat others as leftovers to throw away, we will never have our fill. Whoever eats and drinks without discerning the body of Christ in the poor eats and drinks judgment on himself, and ends up weak, sick and even dying.