First Things First

February 13, 2021
Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”  Mark 8:2–3

Jesus’ primary mission was a spiritual one. He came to set us free from the effects of sin so that we could enter the glories of Heaven for all eternity. His life, death and resurrection destroyed death itself and opened the way for all who turn to Him to be saved. But Jesus’ love for the people was so complete that He was also attentive to their physical needs.

First of all, ponder the first line of this statement of our Lord above: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd…” Jesus’ divine love was intertwined with His humanity. He loved the entire person, body and soul. In this Gospel story, the people were with Him for three days and they were hungry, but they were showing no signs of leaving. They had become so amazed by our Lord that they didn’t want to leave. Jesus pointed out that their hunger was serious. If He sent them away, He feared that they would “collapse on the way.” Thus, these facts are the basis for His miracle.

One lesson we can learn from this story is that of our priorities in life. Oftentimes, we may tend to have our priorities reversed. Of course, taking care of the necessities of life is important. We need food, shelter, clothing and the like. We need to care for our families and provide for their basic needs. But too often we elevate these basic necessities in life over our spiritual need to love and serve Christ, as if the two were opposed to each other. But that’s not the case.

In this Gospel, the people who were with Jesus chose to put their faith first. They chose to remain with Jesus despite the fact that they did not have food to eat. Perhaps some people had left a day or two earlier deciding that the necessity of food took precedence. But those who may have done this missed out on the incredible gift of this miracle in which the entire crowd was fed to the point of being completely satisfied. Of course, our Lord does not want us to be irresponsible, especially if we have a duty to care for others. But this story does tell us that our spiritual need to be fed by the Word of God should always be our greatest concern. When we put Christ first, all other needs are met in accord with His providence.

Reflect, today, upon your own priorities in life. What’s more important to you? Your next good meal? Or your life of faith? Though these do not have to be opposed to each other, it’s important to always put your love of God first in life. Ponder this vast crowd of people who spent three days with Jesus in the wilderness without food and try to see yourself with them. Make their choice to remain with Jesus your choice also, so that your love of God becomes the primary focus of your life.

My providential Lord, You know my every need and are concerned for every aspect of my life. Help me to trust You so completely that I always put my love of You as my first priority in life. I do believe that if I can keep You and Your will as the most important part of my life, all other necessities in life will fall in place. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: The Multiplication of the Loaves by Francisco de Herrera


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