Today’s Psalm ends with the words, “Have pity on your servants!” In the Gospel we see that petition answered by Christ as he tells the disciples, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd.” And Genesis gives us some sense of the need for that pity as we see the curses of the Fall described. In all of this we see revealed to us, Jesus as the curse breaker.
Jesus’s role as curse breaker might be seen loosely at first. When we consider how Jesus took responsibility for the people who followed Him in juxtaposition with how Adam shifted blame eve, we see the New Adam succeeding areas where the Old Adam failed. However it is when we appreciate that Jesus freely provided bread that we see Him breaking the curse. Four thousand people ate bread that they did not pull from the ground through toil and sweat. Jesus as the New Adam is the curse breaker, but there is more for us in this passage as well.
Every day we are called to live from this passage. To live in the era of broken curses. On our lowliest days we are like the members of the crowd, called receive the gift with gratitude and humility. This can be difficult as our culture seems torn between entitlement and a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ attitude. However it is ok to receive bread not earned by the sweat of our own brow. We can’t steal the bread of another’s labor, but we can receive the charity of another, for ultimately it is the charity of Christ himself we are receiving. Also, receiving earthly charity trains us to receive the salvation that we did not earn by the sweat of our own brow nor the shedding of our own blood. And in turn, receiving our salvation, prepares us to humbly receive earthly aid.
At other times, we are the Apostle’s in this story. We are taking the charity we have received from the Lord and giving it to our neighbors. We aren’t making the miracle happen, but in God’s extravagance we are invited to participate in His curse breaking pity for His people.
As Disciples grafted into the Body of Christ by virtue of our Baptism, strengthened by His Spirit through Confirmation and nourished by Him in the Eucharist we are called to see the world as He sees it. Not as a hopeless cause upon which to have distant pity, but as a people to be relieved of the curse. The New Adam has broken the curse, now we await its lifting with hopeful expectation, and in the meantime we try to show the world the same charity we have received through the Cross.