We have hundreds of times heard the story of Jesus multiplying the five loaves and the two fish, so, for today, let’s put the Gospel aside, looking instead at the First, and then at the Second Reading.
I once read a National Geographic article about the natural occurrence of something that the Bedouins still call manna. It is a resin dripping from the Tamarisk bushes that were once plentiful in the Sinai desert. As in the Bible account, it is gathered in the morning, since it melts into the desert when the temperature gets above eighty.
Perhaps it was that same article that spoke about the quail. Many of those little birds, migrating south, and not making it across, fall into the Mediterranean. Then, of those that do reach the Sinai peninsula, many just flop onto the desert. They are easily picked up.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul urged us on, saying, “Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”
That mention of being renewed in mind, makes me think of something said by a fine priest who died a week ago. Cardinal William Baum, who was two years ahead of me in the St. Louis seminary, became the prefect of the Vatican congregation for Education. In that role in 1988 he wrote, “The purpose of Catholic Education is to help each student attain the full development of his or her personality.”
By “personality” Cardinal Baum was not talking about one’s being socially appealing. He meant that each of us is born with a share of potentials for being healthy, for being well educated, for having many friends, for being close to God.
We develop our personalities by developing our God-given potentials, and as Paul said, putting aside our former way of life, and being renewed in the spirit of our minds.