As we reach the midpoint of the first week of Advent, we move from Jesus's firm reminder to "Watch!" on Sunday, to the call of the first apostles - and in turn us - on Monday, to being reminded yesterday to remain childlike, to hearing Matthew's account of feeding the 5,000 today (Matthew 15:29-37).
While I'm not saying that this is a straight line, I do see a connection.
Watch! Do we have childlike eyes to see this miracle for what it is - a miracle? Do we have childlike ears to listen to it yet again and not dismiss it out of familiarity but rather embrace it with wonder? Do we have the trust of a child to give Jesus what we have, even if it is seemingly too little to make a difference? Have we accepted the call to participate in the miracles present in our lives today, even if it means that we aren't the ones performing the miracles themselves?
And, are we full? Have we emptied ourselves enough in order for Jesus to bring us to fullness of life in Him, the fullness for which we were created?
Last Thursday, I was blessed and privileged enough to finish Thanksgiving dinner full. In fact, I'm blessed and privileged enough to have been full after just about every meal of my life. As my parents used to say to me and my siblings, if you're hungry after a meal at the Zelenka house, it's your own fault.
My heart is another organ that has been consistently full throughout my life. My parents created a loving home and provided models of commitment and sacrifice that I try to pass on to my own family. I married my best friend and we have three amazing kids. I've been fortunate to have more friends than enemies, if I can even say that I've ever had any of the latter.
My spirit, too, has been consistently full. I've cherished the gift of my faith for as long as I can remember. From my parents and family, to my spouse and children, to teachers, priests, coaches, religious brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues, I have been surrounded by a cloud of witnesses that have supported, challenged, encouraged and exhorted me in my life of faith. The dark nights of my soul, while at times intense, have never resulted in an interruption in my prayer and worship.
In every part of my life, I am blessed and privileged to say that I am full.
And yet, I can say that somehow, I don't feel satisfied. I desire more of these good things, as if the abundance that I already possess is not enough.
Perhaps it means that I am still holding onto some loaves and fish instead of freely offering every part of myself to the Lord. Perhaps I too often focus on the spaces within me that are still empty instead of relishing the parts of me that are abundantly filled.
It wasn't until the crowd's hands were empty that they were able to accept the graces of the Lord's feast. It's hard to receive something if our hands are clenched.
Furthermore, Jesus - the way, the truth and the life - offers thanks to His Father, our Father, before breaking the bread and giving it to His disciples for distribution.
This Advent, may we prepare room in the inn of our hearts by offering thanks for our gifts before freely giving them away to others, so that this Christmas we might sing along with heaven and nature...
For it is in giving that we receive, and it is in emptying ourselves that we can become full: of joy, of thanks, of love, and of Him.