Sharing the bounty

Summer, a wonderful time of gatherings and cookouts, of taking in all that the season has to offer, and enjoying the long days filled with sunshine. It is a time when we feel refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated. During the summer months we find ourselves enjoying the very fruits of nature, from fresh produce to the bounties of the sea (especially for us New Englanders). All this serves as a very subtle reminder that we are loved and taken care of; that what we need is provided for us. 

This Sunday’s readings remind us of how loved we truly are and how God has throughout the ages ensured that His people are taken care of. In the first reading from Isaiah, we are invited to come, to gather as His people to eat and drink, to be His guests, to come just as we are, to have no fear of arriving empty-handed, because He has so much to offer, His desire for us is that we delight in the gifts He shares. In return, He only asks that we heed His Word, living our lives knowing that we are gifts to each other. Even the Psalm reminds us that “The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.” 

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus feeds the thousands with only a handful of fish and bread, yet no one in the gathered crowd left hungry. Not only were they fed and satisfied, there was still enough left over to fill a dozen wicker baskets. How often have you invited people over for a cookout or gathering, and worried about having enough to feed all your invited guests? I know I always do. But as a child, I remember my parents always saying, “When you give with an open heart, you will always have more than enough.” And over the years, this sentiment, this motto if you will, has always reminded me that like my parents, God finds a way to give us what we need and so much more. Even when the pickings seem so slim, somehow there is more than enough to go around, and yes miraculously, always leftovers. 

If we who are simply humans, with many faults and failings, are able to share with others, how much more is God willing to do for us? That is a question that is so easily answered, just turning the pages of the Bible, traveling through the Old Testament into the New, we see over and over again, the multitude of times when we were taken care of. We see God providing food for Moses and the people He has led from bondage, giving them manna, meat and water; we find Jesus helping the Apostles fill their nets with fish; providing drink at the wedding feast in Cana, and feeding the crowds that gathered to hear Him speak. 

We are reminded time and time again that we are blessed with so much even when things around us seem bleak. That God only wants and desires all that is good for us. So as we enjoy these summer months, taking in all the bounty of nature, let us not fail to recognize the gifts that we so freely receive. And most importantly, let us not withhold anything from each other. We are given gifts and talents that not only fill our needs, but can help fill the needs of others. We may not have much money, but a kind word can fill the empty silence, filling the hearer’s heart with much-needed nourishment. A hug can help another feel the warmth of God’s loving embrace. Simple gestures can quench the deep thirst of another. God has poured Himself out, into the vessels that we are, hoping that we will overflow into each other. So open your arms wide, better yet, open your hearts wide, and let it all in. Let it flow in and through you. 

Remember always that “like the birds of the air that do not sow or reap, yet God continues to feed them, how much more valuable are we” (Mt 6:26). So if God and Jesus have no qualms about taking care of us, why should we in turn hesitate to care for each other? Why do we hold back when often it is very little that is asked of us? If we believe that we are truly children of God, do we not believe as well that He will provide us with everything we need? There is a song that has stayed with me through the years that simply states, “Whatsoever you do for the least of My brothers, that you do unto Me.” So as we enjoy this time of year, let us be ever mindful of what we have, and what we have to share, and be truly grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva lives in Fall River and is a parishioner of St. Michael’s Parish, and she is the Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. She is married with three children and two grandchildren.

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