Elsewhere in the Gospels we ear Jesus chastise the leaders of the people because they are constantly demanding that the people make sacrifices for their faith. This may be a good thing but only if it is in moderation. There is a time when having mercy is more important than demanding sacrifice.

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus having pity on the crowds tat have gathered to see Him. First He heals the sick among them and then He works a miracle in order to feed them all. His disciples wanted to send the people away to find their own food, but Jesus refuses this option and demonstrates something of the mercy and love of God in choosing to feed them Himself.

We celebrate this mercy every time we participate in the Mass. The Feeding miracles prefigure the Eucharistic Communion that we have with Jesus in the Mass. Just as Jesus chose to feed the people gathered with food to alleviate their physical hunger, in the Eucharist, He does the same sort of thing with our spiritual hunger. Jesus continues to hold nothing back from us 2000 years after he walked the earth. We can see that His commitment to us is going to endure to the end. His mercy will not run out.

What about us? Are we living our faith with the long-term goal of eternal life in mind? That is, are we prepared to keep on surrendering our lives to God’s will? Are we prepared to continue laying down our lives in the service of God and one another? Jesus quite legitimately calls us to the greater and long-term response because He has shown the way by the example of His own life.

Like the disciples of Jesus in the Gospel, sometimes it is difficult to see the way through a particular problem. Let us pray that we will always have the grace to look at things through the eyes of a merciful and loving God and that our response will always be in line with this view.

Do I tend to demand a lot from the people around me or am I very merciful in the way that I relate with others? How well do I lead by example?

Holy Spirit, you are the one who gives me the strength to love. Help me to open my heart to that grace on a daily basis and to learn to love with mercy in the way that God loves me.