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Gospel reflection

June 23, 2019: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Reading: Luke 9:11b-17

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured.
As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”
He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”
They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Now the men there numbered about five thousand.

Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty.” They did so and made them all sit down.
Then taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing over them, broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.
They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.


The adolescent folded his arms in defiance. He said, “I’m not doing this project. Who cares about genetically modifying a tomato not to rot? All of these project ideas are silly. Just go buy food.” His teammates silently nodded. Gently I asked, “Are you fellows telling me that hunger does not exist anywhere on our planet?” One grudgingly admitted I had a point. The group’s spokesman informed me that they wanted a “real” example. I put aside the ten or so examples I had pulled from the scientific literature. I suggested we create an example battling hunger after a natural disaster. I said a human could survive on a rice plus beans diet. We settled in on the idea they would explain how to genetically modify rice to have more proteins (or more amino acids).

As I turned to leave, one of his teammates said “No.” Admittedly my patience was wearing thin. My glance probably had an icy chill to it. He stammered, “I mean we want to do the whole idea. We will make our team bigger. We want to explain the science of the genetically modified food then show how to deliver that food to a place that has been devastated by disaster.” My trust in them was rewarded. Their presentation was amazingly detailed for high school students.

In so many ways, the students in that example are just like those disciples in today’s gospel. The idea of people going hungry is a bit beyond their immediate vision. Yet, near the close of the day, when the realization sets in, the disciples are ready and willing to assist.

Yet, the disciples are still learning how and when to hand things over to God. They leave it at bringing the issue to Jesus’ attention. They believe their work is done. The disciples are stunned by Jesus’ call to “Give them some food yourselves.”

Although Jesus could have performed an analogous caloric miracle by instantly adjusting the internal metabolism for each member of the crowd, that is not the way the miracle plays out. Jesus chooses to take the little the disciples have and make it enough for all. Jesus also has the disciples assist in carrying out what needs to get done to feed the multitude. Why?

For the disciples and for each of us, there is a balance to be maintained on our journey. There is a time to hand things over to God. There is also a time to be an active player, guided by the Advocate, who helps play a role in participating in bringing God’s plan to fruition.


This week examine the world around you with a fresh pair of eyes. There will be a place where you feel that you can make a difference by doing “X.” Yes, that is the Advocate pointing you to a place where you can actively share God’s love with someone in need. Organize a few friends. Go make a start there together.

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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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