Fr. Pecchie's Message 07/25/21

Five loaves and two fish cannot feed a crowd of five thousand men (plus at least as many women and children). It is impossible. Not even a year's salary (the equivalent of two hundred denarii) could buy enough for such a feast, as Philip nervously points out. Yet, when the Apostles hand over their paltry resources to the Lord, they become more than enough to do the job.

The same goes for every Christian, including ourselves. The mission we have received, the mission of becoming saints, the mission of using our gifts and talents to help others lead fulfilled and fulfilling lives, the mission of being bright torches in this dark world, torches that guide  searching souls toward the hope of heaven - this mission is beyond our natural capacities. It's too much for us, which may be one reason we tend not to think about it too much.

Whose natural talents and wisdom are sufficient to defeat the forces of evil that seem to hold the world in tow? Whose innate strength is sufficient to put an end to the selfishness, lust, and greed that rage within the human heart? How can the meager resources of a single parish or diocese suffice to do battle with media moguls, corrupt politicians, international banking cartels, and other agents of the culture of death? We only have five loaves and two fish; by ourselves we can do nothing.

Only if we put all we have and all we are into Christ's hands, confiding in Him and not ourselves, can we hope to fulfill our life mission and make a real difference for the good of the Kingdom - in our hearts and in society at large. What we could never achieve on our own, we can immeasurably surpass with God. As Jesus Himself put it, "For God, everything is possible" (Matthew 19:26).

The devil knows this, and he does whatever he can to discourage us from putting our few loaves and small fish at Christ's service. Normally his strategy is simple and subtle - he tempts us by encouraging us to give in to self-centered, comfort-seeking attitudes that are built in to our fallen human nature. But the devil also works more directly and less subtly. St. John Vianney was a man who put every last crumb of his loaves at God's service. He didn't enjoy natural gifts of intelligence, good looks, or a fetching personality. Yet, people from all over the world would come to his little French town of Ars to go to confession with him.

The humble ministry of hearing confessions, sometimes for 16 hours a day, was the avenue through which God multiplied this priest's loaves and fish. So the devil would do everything he could to discourage the priest from this ministry, even attacking him at night physically. More than once, the devil actually set his room on fire. But this diabolical tactic backfired - it only made the priest more dedicated to the confessional than ever. St. John would sometimes say:

“The devil gave me a good shaking last night, so we shall have a great number of people tomorrow. The grappin [his name for the devil] is very stupid; he himself tells him of the arrival of big sinners... He is angry - so much the better!"

The devil is convinced that even our small efforts to fulfill our life-mission can work wonders, but are we convinced?

An aid to help us to be convinced is the Holy Rosary. The Rosary is a simple but profound prayer. When we pray it well, we not only glorify God and obtain grace for ourselves and our loved ones, but we also prepare ourselves for the sufferings that life in this fallen world will bring to us. When we pray the Rosary, we review in our mind and heart all the most important scenes from the life of Christ, including those of His passion.   

Reviewing those scenes is, through God's grace, almost like a rehearsal. As we admire the self-giving, self-sacrificing love of Jesus and Mary, we are, in a spiritual sense, practicing it. As a result, when the time comes for us to imitate that love in our own lives, we are ready.

At Mass, Jesus will renew His commitment to each one of us, and He will renew His call in our hearts. When He does, let us renew our yes to Him, let us give Him all our loaves and fish, and let us pray for the young men and women God is calling in a special way, that they, like the apostles, will put their trust in the Lord.


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