Today’s Thoughts: Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes has always been regarded as a place of peace, a place connected with the sick and struggling. I, myself, found Lourdes to be a truly remarkable place when I spent two days there last August.
Pausing to honor Mary is always a good thing to do. Today we honor her visit to Lourdes back in the middle of the 19th century to a simple little girl named Bernadette. We also honor the ongoing gift of healing through Mary that has taken place in Lourdes since her appearance. As I have shared with you many times I am always very much aware of the role Mary has played in my own family’s life. My father visited Lourdes during World War II and asked Mary for a special favor. He asked Mary to keep him safe so that he could return home to my mother and begin a family. He dedicated his first female child to Mary and said he would name her Bernadette. My father made it home, my sister’s name is Bernadette and thanks to my mother and father my sister, my brother and I were given the gift of life. Mary is truly a special person.
In the gospel reading today from Mark (8:1-10), we find a familiar story of Jesus feeding a large crowd with only a few loaves bread and a few fish. The crowd was hungry for the words Jesus preached that is what brought them there. But they were also hungry for food so that they could return to their everyday life. The disciple ask the question, “How are we going to feed the crowd? We have so little and the crowd is so big?” But like the first time this happen Jesus once again asks the disciple, “What do they have to offer the people?”
The point of both our readings today is very simple. God responds to human need with compassion and empowerment. In today’s first reading from the Book of Genesis Adam and Eve have misguided thirst for knowledge. Once they recognize their mistake it is God who out of compassion weaves their clothing when they notice their nakedness. Shame is a powerful and horrible form of knowledge but God does not mention their vulnerability. Instead, God reaches out to protect even while angry. Jesus shows compassion to the crowd that has gather to hear him by feeding them.
The empowerment is more easily seen in the Gospel story. Jesus, invites the disciples to feed the listeners. To share what they have both in word and bread. Yes, I miracle took place that day. Jesus did feed a large crowd with a few loaves and fishes. But he also taught the disciple that if their ministry was going to work they would have to learn to share. They were going to have to learn to share the word and what they had. They were going to have to live by their hearts.
In the celebration of our feast today, Mary certainly lived from her heart by showing compassion and empowerment. She touched the heart St. Bernadette 18 times back in 1858. St. Bernadette took Mary’s gift to her own heart and brought it to the hearts of the world. How each of the women lived is the gift we celebrate today. What they believed, what they held in their hearts is how they lived and what they shared with the world.
Have a great Saturday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...