Reflections for Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm 145:8-9,15-18; Romans 8:35,37-39; Matthew 14:13-21)

Using the Gifts God has Given You

Give them some food yourselves. (Matthew 14:16)

Tony Melendez was born without any arms. But he was also born with a gift for music, so he developed a unique way to share that gift. He played with his feet, starting with a push-button organ and moving to the guitar and harmonica. Combining his musical gifts with his faith, Melendez became involved in music ministry.

In 1987, he played before Pope John Paul II, who leaped out of his seat, embraced the young man, and said, “My wish for you is to continue giving this hope to all the people.” Melendez is still doing that through his ministry, giving concerts and motivational talks, supporting people with disabilities, and helping young-adult and missionary programs.

Tony Melendez is a perfect illustration of the principle we see at work in today’s reading. The disciples didn’t have that much going for them. Five loaves and two fish couldn’t possibly feed such a huge crowd! But they brought their meager portion to Jesus, who blessed it and gave it back to them. Notice: he didn’t distribute the meal himself. He told the disciples to do it. Not sure what to expect, they handed out the bread and fish—and the impossible became possible!

By telling the disciples to feed the crowd themselves, Jesus made it clear that the miracle would not happen without them.

What do you have to offer today? Don’t worry if it seems paltry. Offer it to the Lord anyway. Give him your work, play, or study. Give him the difficult situation that you’re dealing with. Give him your imagination or your anxieties. Ask him to bless it, transform it, and use it for his Father’s glory. Then, like Tony Melendez, work with whatever you have. As you do, you’ll find God’s power multiplying your offering, “feeding” the people around you.

“Lord, I give you my heart. Thank you for accepting me as I am. I trust that you will let none of my gifts go to waste!” 

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, we hear these words:  “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat. Come, without paying and without cost.”  What an offer!  All Jesus is asking is that we “come” to Him and he will give us everything we need, and we will “delight in rich fare.” How would you describe your “thirst” for the Lord? What specific things can you do this week to increase that thirst and “come” to the Lord?
  2. Again in the responsorial psalm, we read that the “hand of the Lord feeds us; he answer all our needs.”  What are the needs in your life that require the Lord’s grace and power?  In these areas, how do you want the Lord to touch you?
  3. In the second reading, St. Paul reviews the circumstances of his life (persecution, famine, etc.) and concludes that none of it can separate him from “the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” To what extent do you believe this as well for your life? How can you use this truth to guide your prayer time and how you live out your day?
  4. In the Gospel, we read that Jesus’ heart was “moved with pity,” and he feeds the large crowd earthly bread.  But at every Mass, we are fed by Christ with Himself, the bread of eternal life.  How hungry are you for this bread? How can you increase your hunger for Jesus, the bread of life?
  5. The meditation describes the exceptional ministry of Tony Melendez, who was born without arms. The meditation also encourages us with these words to offer whatever gifts we have to the Lord: “Ask him to bless it, transform it, and use it for his Father’s glory. Then, like Tony Melendez, work with whatever you have. As you do, you’ll find God’s power multiplying your offering, ‘feeding’ the people around you.” What are some ways you can use the gifts the Lord has given you to bring glory to God?
  6. Take some time now to pray and thank the Lord for his great love for you and ask him to let none of the gifts he has given you go to waste.  Use the prayer at the end of the mediation as the starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.

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