food for leaders
“All those present ate their fill.” —Matthew 14:20
In today’s first reading, God provides a miraculous gift of daily manna, which satisfied the Israelites’ need for food (Nm 11:6-9). In the Gospel reading, Jesus multiplies a few loaves and fishes to satisfy the hunger of a huge crowd (Mt 14:18ff). In the Mass, after we hear these readings, we then receive the Holy Eucharist, a far superior miraculous food.
In both readings, the leaders are greatly stressed because of the people’s constant need to be fed (Nm 11:10ff; Mt 14:15, 17). Knowing that people are often unsatisfied even with miracle food and complain against their own leaders, why would anyone want to be a leader in the religious life? A good answer is that leaders have a role in distributing miraculous food. Priests have the blessing of consecrating the Holy Eucharist. The privilege of feeding hungry people with the Bread of Life (Jn 6:35) and the Word of God (see Mt 4:4) outweighs the trials of ministry.
Some who read this may be called to the priesthood. Others are being called to become leaders in the Body of Christ. If so, focus not on the difficulties of working with complaining and rebellious people. Instead, fix your eyes on the Eucharistic Jesus (Heb 3:1). Jesus is calling His leaders to have His own Shepherd’s heart. Jesus says to His leaders: “Give them something to eat yourselves” (Mt 14:16). Like the Blessed Mother, magnify the Lord and minimize the obstacles. Jesus calls you to “feed [His] sheep” (Jn 21:17).
Prayer: Father, may I yearn to feed Your hungry people more than a parent desires to feed their hungry child.
Promise: “If only My people would hear Me, and Israel walk in My ways, quickly would I humble their enemies; against their foes I would turn My hand.” —Ps 81:14-15
Praise: Pope St. Sixtus II was martyred for the “crime” of celebrating the Holy Eucharist in the catacombs of Rome. He willingly risked his life to bring Jesus to persecuted Christians.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat for One Bread, One Body covering the period August 1, 2023 through September 30, 2023. Reverend Steve J. Angi, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio January 4, 2023
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