(How does today’s Gospel speak to me during this lockdown? Allow me to share a humble reflection.)
His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” (Mark 8:4)
Jesus is in pagan territory, surrounded by a crowd that has been with him for three days. However, this place is deserted and Jesus worries that the people will not have the physical strength to return home. Taken with compassion, he expresses his concern to his disciples, who respond with the question quoted above. They see no way out of the problem Jesus has set before them. Then Jesus himself takes the situation in hand: he multiplies the little bread they have, and the crowd is fed.
I have the feeling of being on a rigorous fast since the beginning of this lockdown. I am not fasting from food – I have it in abundance – but from friendships, shared activities and family gatherings. The lockdown seems like a relational desert. I understand the apostles' frustration: where can I find something to satisfy my yearning in such a desert? TV shows, puzzles and solitary walks no longer suffice. However, Jesus can take what little I have - phone calls, text messages, little gifts exchanged by mail - and multiply their scope and impact in my life. My poverty can become wealth in his Spirit.
Abba, Father, this lockdown obliges me to endure a relational fast, even a spiritual one. Renew my trust in Jesus who, still today, can multiply the bread that is mine. May the brief and fleeting encounters that make up my life these days, however poor they may be, generate in me a deep richness which will satisfy my yearning. From the abundance that I will then discover in myself, I will be able to feed others.