Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Pass It On

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.  No one has ever seen God.  Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  (1 John 4:11-12)

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray…  He saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them…   He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely astounded.  They had not understood the incident of the loaves.  On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.   (Mark 8:45-46, 48a, 51-52)

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
(Psalm 72:12-13)

Stories you won’t read in the Washington Post

  • My dad, who will be 88 in a few weeks, still lives in the house I grew up in.  Every day someone picks up his newspapers for him and places them inside his storm door, sparing him a walk down a steep driveway.  When it snows, someone shovels his driveway and sidewalks before he even gets out of bed.  The little girls across the street frequently come over bearing gifts of food from their mother.
  • One of my friends spent a few Saturday mornings in December taking men recently released from prison shopping for new clothes, outfitting them for their new lives.
John says no one has ever seen God, but when I see people reaching out to others like this with love, kindness, and compassion, I feel like I do almost see God.  At the very least, I see the love God showers upon us being shared with a brother or sister in need.

The disciples, in today’s Gospel reading, don’t seem to grasp that, however.  Yesterday, we read about Jesus feeding the five thousand.  The disciples didn’t care if the people were tired and hungry; they were all for sending them to the nearest Subway or McDonald’s, any solution that required nothing from them.  Maybe in the end they got too caught up in the wonder and enthusiasm of the crowd at the miracle Jesus performed.  Maybe they thought the crowd’s admiration extended to them, too.  But for whatever reason, Jesus makes them get into the boat and set off ahead of him.  During that night on the water, a fierce storm comes up.  The disciples are terrified but Jesus climbs into the boat with them and calms them as well as the waves. 

They just didn’t get it.  They truly didn’t understand the love which prompted Jesus to feed the hungry or comfort the frightened.  They were astounded rather than grateful.  At this point in their lives, they weren’t led to generosity toward others.  Mark says their hearts were hardened.

Spend a few minutes gratefully reflecting on occasions when God has used someone to touch you with his love.  God’s love is not ours to hoard; pass it on to someone in need. Who knows? - Your act of kindness or compassion may be the only time that person “sees” God that day.

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