The Season of Giving

Matthew 15: 29-37
Isa 25: 6-10a / Psa 23

… they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
(Matthew 15:37)

We’re made in God’s image and likeness,
So must reflect His generosity;
To those who ask, never refuse kindness,
It’s paving our way to eternity.

Jesus went on and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, so that the throng marveled, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel. Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to Him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Telling the crowd to sit down on the ground, He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. (Matthew 15: 29-37)

Reflection

In a desert mountain, Jesus displayed the abundance of God’s compassion when He healed all kinds of sickness and disorder among the crowds that came to Him, and then fed them until all were satisfied from seven loaves and a few small fish. And just to make sure they would have enough to sustain them on their way back, they collected seven baskets full of leftovers. This abundance of food, however, was not only for the benefit of the crowds, but as a lesson to His disciples as well, who, after having witnessed the great healing miracles that Jesus had performed still doubted by asking Him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?”

Aren’t most of us just like the doubtful disciples of Jesus? How many times has God shown us His compassion and generosity in our times of need? And yet, how much have we given back when it was our turn to help those who come to us in their time of need? In His wisdom and mercy, God again gives us the opportunity to practice what Jesus has been teaching us in this season of Advent. Let us reflect on the meaning of Advent and how it relates to what Jesus is teaching us in today’s Gospel. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. The Savior of the world “comes” to us on Christmas day. The season of Advent is four weeks prior to Christmas, enough time to prepare ourselves, and be worthy to receive Him. The four weeks (which started last Sunday) are represented by the four advent candles placed on an advent wreath near the altar. Note the color of the three candles is purple, symbolizing preparation, penance and sacrifice. The fourth candle is pink, which is the symbol of celebration and joy. The best way to prepare, atone for our sins and sacrifice our resources is to practice charity. The bible says, “Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins” (Sir.3:29). It also says, “He who is kind to the needy glorifies the Lord” (Prov.14:31). That is why Christmas is the season of giving. The magi were considered wise because they anticipated and prepared for the coming of the Messiah. And they brought gifts to give to the poor Baby in the manger. Jesus came to our time and space as a poor man, but He gave all that He had for our salvation. We have so much to gain when we give to the poor: God’s boundless blessings, plus much more in His kingdom.

Father God, we thank You for Your grace of generosity, which helps us to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus, our Savior. Please help us focus on what is essential during this Advent: to give help and assistance to those who are in need, rather than indulge ourselves in this season of merrymaking. By this we may be worthy to receive Him. Amen.

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