In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 14, there is a beautiful account that took place at the Sea of Galilee. It is one of Jesus feeding the thousands who had gathered to listen to Him. When evening came, the apostles were concerned for them and asked the Lord to send them away for food. What was Jesus’ response? He told the Apostles, “Give them some food yourselves.” They only had two fish and five loaves, and so they presented these to Jesus. After ordering the crowds to sit on the grass, he looked up to heaven, said a blessing, and distributed the loaves and fish – and miraculously, all those who were gathered ate. Jesus multiplied what was brought to him.
There is a Church called Tabgha in the Holy Land by the Sea of Galilee built over the area this event happened. As you enter the Church, the foundation is mostly mosaic, some of it dating to the 5th century! The main altar is made of limestone, very simple; however, under the Altar is a large stone that was part of the original ground marking the area where the multiplication of the fish and loaves took place. Alongside the stone is a mosaic from the 5th century of two fish and a basket with several round loaves of bread.
When we lead pilgrimages to the Holy Land, the pilgrims want to venerate this rock. To kneel and touch this area where our Lord performed this miracle is something one cannot forget. Imagine reading that scripture account and standing at the very place it happened!
A Franciscan living in the Galilee area told me that I should I do the same: offer my fish and loaves to the Lord, asking Him to multiply it according to His will. This miracle can still happen today.
Jesus waits for us to present Him our fish and loaves: our gifts, our talents, our desire to improve our relationships, our love, and yes, our concerns as well. All can be brought to Jesus.
He will receive them as He received the two fish and loaves and grant us the graces needed for what we ask according to His will. Through our prayer, Jesus will help us to know what he wants to multiply in us.
As we begin the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, consider these 40 days as a journey with Jesus. Read the stories about Jesus in one or all of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Then imagine yourself in each time and place with Jesus. For me, this has helped to ponder the scriptures and seek a deeper knowledge of Christ.
An addition to reading the scriptures, praying the Gospel Prayer, the Rosary, is a way to ponder the scriptures. You might especially focus on the sorrowful mysteries, those related to the Lord’s Passion and Death.
My husband, Deacon Tom, has written a Holy Land Rosary Booklet with meditations related to the holy sites in the Holy Land. The cost of $6.95 for each book goes directly to support this ministry of evangelization. You can order yours through our website or call (210) 521-3377. Booklets can be picked up at the Pilgrim Center of Hope or shipped to you for an additional $1.75.
“Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life…”
— Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI