In Matt 14:35 it says, “ when the men of Gennesaret recognized Jesus they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought Him those who were sick and begged Him that they might only touch the tassel on His cloak, and as many touched it were healed.”
What really strikes me about this passage is the word recognized. Scripture tells us that the men at Gennesaret “recognized” Jesus, which to me beggs the question, do we as Catholics recognize Jesus in every Consecrated Host? Do recognize Him with the same passion as the men in the gospel? Jesus is no less powerful as He was then, because as the bible tells us, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
As Catholics, we take Jesus literally when He said to eat His flesh and drink His blood. This is the only time in scripture that His disciples leave Him over one of His teachings. Question to ask ourselves, if Jesus was speaking symbolically would it have been a hard saying to accept? Would they have deserted Him over a symbol? Jesus used lots of symbolism and analogies, but none of His disciples left Him over them. For Example, In Jn.15:5 Jesus referred to Himself as a vine or in Jn 10:9 He refers to Himself as a door, but you didn't have any of his disciples telling Him that he wasn't “really” a branch or a door. That’s because they knew he was speaking symbolically, but it’s quite different when Jesus tells them that they must eat His Body and Drink His Blood. They knew full well that He meant what he said, and that’s why they left Jesus, because what he said actually was and is a hard saying!
A hard saying... yes, but one that SHOULD change our lives. If Jesus is truly present to us in every Consecrated Host, how should that effect us? If we look back and see how Jesus’ presence affected the people that saw Him, shouldn't the same Jesus affect us in the same way? Shouldn't we be clamoring to be with Him? If we think about it, we have even more than they had, because we have the opportunity to have an intimate friendship with Him by visiting Him in Eucharistic Adoration, and by receiving His very body and life into our bodies every time we receive Him in the sacrifice of the Mass.
We know what the people's reaction was to Jesus, but we should also ponder and ask ourselves what Jesus’ reaction to the people was? In Matt.9:35-37 it shows us this very clearly when it says, "Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, His heart was moved with compassion for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a Shepard.
God’s heart is moved with compassion for us! He looks upon us as he did the crowds of people that surrounded Him over 2,000 years ago and He sees our attachments to sin, our wounds, our bondage, our brokenness, our pride, our humiliations, etc. Christ wants to trade our Anxiety, for His peace, our selfishness, for His selflessness, our brokenness, for His wholeness, our pride, for His humility, our un-forgiveness, for forgiveness, etc. In other words he wants us to imitate Him so we can live lives of freedom, love , and sanctity.
Sometimes we think that a great counselor or the right self help book can create the change we need in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I think good counselors have their place and self help books can indeed be helpful, but honestly, the one person we should be seeking out most aggressively is Jesus Christ present to us in the Eucharist!
Who else has the power to transform our chaotic burdened souls into a place of peace and joy? Who else can heal our souls from the effects of sin? Who else can heal us from all our insecurities and pain? Who else knows the perfect antidote to our miseries? Who else can touch the deepest depths of our souls and ignite them with the flame of love? Who else loves us perfectly? No one, but Jesus fully alive and present to us in the Most Holy Eucharist!
Then why would we deny ourselves such sweetness; such an unthinkable gift? Seriously...what in our lives is stopping us from running into His presence, from recognizing His greatness, from being in awe of this sacred reality that He is with us? Could it possibly be that we're putting more effort into worldly distractions... like entertainment, sports, friends, success, and chasing after fleeting pleasure, that we forget to recognize that love itself is waiting for us? Are we forgetting that the only one who can truly change us and give us what are hearts are longing for is waiting and present?
So, if we say we want closeness and friendship with Christ, if we want to change the world, or better yet change ourselves first, then we must go to Him. We must seek Him.
Like the crowds that recognized Jesus in their midst, let us join them and take every opportunity to meet with Him in intimate friendship. There is nothing in our lives that could bring us more good, or benefit our families, and ultimately the whole word than by being present to Him, so His presence can be made known through us to our wounded world.
Immediately after scripture describes Jesus’ compassion on the crowds in the following verse 38, Jesus goes on to say, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so let us ask the master of the Harvest to send out laborers for the Harvest.
Ultimately, our goal as disciples of Christ is to conform our lives to His and to labor in the harvest for the sake of God’s love for every person. We must Do as Christ did. We must go out to the lost and broken hearted, and bring them the good news of Jesus Christ! Just like the men in Gennesaret who sent word to bring in the sick, so Jesus could heal them. We too must do the same.
But we cannot give what we do not have, so lets take the time necessary to meet with Jesus as often as we can, so it will not only be us laboring for souls, but it will be Christ fully alive, laboring with us. Without His living presence within us, we can do nothing.
“Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you little graces? Visit Him rarely. Do you want the devil to attack you? Visit Jesus rarely in the Blessed Sacrament. Do you want Him to flee? Visit Jesus often!” ~ St. John Bosco