Nourishment 


Christina Baker // Scripture: A Mother's Lens

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June 19  

When I consider the five thousand hungry, tired people Jesus feeds in today’s Gospel, I’m reminded that such a huge part of our lives as mothers is nourishing others. We nourish our children inside of our bodies, and then with our bodies after they’re born. (Or we make those 3 a.m. bottles, which, having done both, I think is even harder than nursing!) Most of us cook for our families, chop food into tiny pieces for toddlers, and provide meltdown-averting snacks. That’s not to mention Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday parties . . . all of which can feel like we are the ones trying to feed the five thousand!

Sometimes, however, we mothers are the ones who need feeding. When our fifth child was born two months early, and I was in the hospital for ten days and facing a long recovery, I couldn’t feed my baby or the rest of my family—I could barely even feed myself. Strangers and friends became Christ to my family during this time: they literally fed us. When my body refused to make milk, someone I will never know donated breast milk for my tiny baby during the first weeks of his life. People dropped off dinners at our house for months. And before I was able to attend Mass again, Jesus fed himself to me when priest friends of ours brought me the Eucharist.

It’s been said many times that Christ comes to us in humble materials—bread and wine—but they are also materials that we cooperate to fashion, “the fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” When we reach out to each other, as so many people reached out to us in our time of need, we do the “bread-making” of turning the humble materials God gifts to us into nourishment for each other, in this life and the next. I like to think that some of those five thousand went home full of more than just bread and fish. I like to think that the wonder of the miracle they had witnessed, combined with the teachings they had heard, filled them with the desire to feed others—to share with others the gift they had been given.

No matter how many Meal Trains I join, I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve paid back all the help we received during those difficult months. But there is joy in knowing that every time I share my food with someone in need, every time I nourish my family, and every time I refuse to keep my gifts to myself, I am following Jesus’ example—doing what I can, with his help, to feed others as he has fed me.

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