Thursday, 6 August 2009

Let them eat cake

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

John 6:12

‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted’.

‘Pick up the pieces’

It was a foolish thing to do; to walk knowingly into the hills without food or water. We should have all known better.

Yet listening to the Rabbi we became entranced - by his vision; by his words; by his promises. This kingdom of his was where we wanted to be; It was a vision that we did not want to walk away from; knowing the life that waited for us back in the cities and towns. Knowing that there - there would be no honour in being meek, sad or downtrodden. We may have trusted him but we had lived in a different world.

So we followed; like some great flock of sheep pushing to stay in sight of their shepherd. And like sheep sitting in the meadow grass of the early spring and suddenly realising that our spirits were full but our bellies were empty. Then wondering if this had all been a trick; a real enchantment; for what were we to do now? Children crying out and if anyone had food they were too scared to take from their robes under the hungry eyes of their neighbours.

Until the miracle, and that is what it was – there was no sudden sharing from the crowd; a caravan didn’t suddenly appear; the offering of food by the young boy was all the Rabbi needed and I watched as his friends carried basket after basket of food to everyone on that hill. There seemed to be no end to it yet it was all I do not to push forward to make sure I had my share.

As I ate I thought about how easily my life is tossed by circumstance. I am poor; I have nothing; I beg; I blame; I hear the Word spoken to me; suddenly I believe - but a simple ache in the stomach turns me again to worldly wants; to greed; to resentment. I turn to wondering why I am here; what really can these words do for me? I am nothing, I have nothing to give. These Words are maybe meant for another better, holier, more powerful person – I am not even worth the crumbs that lie scattered on the floor.

Then I see him again walking with his friends, bending down here and there, a basket under his arm. And I hear him say ‘ pick up all that is left over’ – then he bends and looks into my eyes as he adds ‘ nothing gets wasted’,


We are very fond of extravagance. It is lovely to have too much; to not to have to worry if there is enough. At best it is a sign of welcome and hospitality – a party buffet where everyone is catered for and the dishes just keep on coming.

Some may think that it is good to have a spiritual life that is like that too.
If we have been in that place where we were hungry for God’s presence and then, we find ourselves invited to the feast.

Where every Mass and service fills us with God’s light, where we can spend time on retreat and come back replenished with the Spirit; where we read and study and feel that every day we are growing closer to being the person God wishes us to be – that we are growing closer to God.

We can be so full of God then that the little moments stop becoming important. We have cake so we don’t need bread.

But this is not true, one day the time will come; and no-one can say why, if, when – but God’s presence becomes absence. And party people feel abandoned; deprived – the thrill has gone – it is all over. They sink into despair or try to find another party.

But the housekeepers; the ones who remembered the ‘before the invitation’ will have a store; a jar of ‘crumbs’ to turn to, to see them over the lean times, in faith that these times won’t last.

Think about times when a moment of grace has passed you by because it was only a small thing (a smile, a word, a gesture saying that ‘God is present’) and gather it up. Do not let these moments go to waste. Find a place in your heart and mind and keep them safe.

Closing Prayer

May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen

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