Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Optional Memorial)


They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full.

It was time for the Friday food giveaway at a small church in Oroville, California.   But the food bank volunteers had a problem: their supply was low.   Usually they could fill 100 boxes of food for the needy.   But this time they had only enough to make 50 boxes—and the line of hungry people stretched down the block!   As the food started to run out, the volunteers prayed for a miracle—and God answered.   They not only had enough, they had more than enough.   They ended up filling 102 boxes!

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:37), we see Jesus doing something similar.   With only seven loaves, he feeds an entire crowd and still has bread to spare.   But why were there leftovers?   Surely Jesus could have given the crowd exactly the right amount of food.

Actually, the loaves in the seven baskets weren’t really “leftovers.”   They were a sign of God’s abundance.   He does not ration out his grace, his love, and his provision for us.   In fact, he has a never-ending supply!

Where do you see an overabundance of bread?   At Mass. On the altar, Jesus gives himself to us completely.   Here, in Communion, we can receive all the grace we need and more besides:   spiritual “leftovers” to share with the people around us.

Jesus wants to fill everyone with his grace—and he wants to use you to do it.   This is especially true during Advent, a season when people can be more open to God and might consider coming to Mass at Christmas.   And yet, it’s ironic that at this time of year, we can feel like we’re “running on empty” and have little to offer.

If that describes you, don’t worry.   Just ask Jesus to fill you up again the next time you receive Communion.   As you are coming up to receive, pray, “Jesus, I believe this is your Body and your Blood. Come, Lord, and give me your grace.”   Then, after Communion, spend a few moments silently thanking him for coming to you.   Thank him for uniting himself to you.   “Lord, I trust that you are at work now, filling me up. Thank you!”

Keep this up every time you receive Communion, and you can’t help but be filled to overflowing—with grace left over to share!

“Thank you, Lord, for giving yourself to me in the Eucharist.   Help me share your grace with people around me.”

Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6

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