My name is NEDI: which is short for: Ned-i-voot – which means generosity in Hebrew. And you will find out why I was named very appropriately by my parents. . .
I lived a happy life down by the Sea of Galilee. Living on a farm with my parents – we grew barley, oats, and wheat for the baking of rolls and bread.
My parents always baked a lot – even more than we needed or could sell – because Dad always said, “What we don’t eat ourselves or sell to the villagers, we can give it away – for the poor will always be with us.”
“But why are some people poor, and some people aren’t”, I asked my Dad. “It isn’t fair that we have what we need – and others have nothing.”
“You’re right, son,” my Dad said. “It isn’t fair. All I know though – is that someday the Messiah will come, and he will be our king. And in his kingdom there will be no slave or free person, no rich and no poor, no hungry or thirsty. Or as the Prophet Isaiah foretells: ‘heed me, that is listen to me – and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare --- and you will have life!” So that’s why we await a Messiah!”
Mom and Dad were always telling me about the coming of the Messiah – one who would bring peace to our often-times war torn country. Especially during our times of oppression – it seemed like the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. . . Oh how we longed to be set free!
One warm summer day, a neighbor stopped by to buy a loaf of bread. “I’m on my way to see the King. He’s right nearby,” he said.
“A king,” I said. “Right nearby? You must be fooling us!”
The neighbor shook his head. “I would not be fooling around about something as important as a king,” he said. “Why some people say that this one is the Messiah – here at last! Why don’t you come with me and see?”
“Is this the one the call Jesus?” asked my dad with a smile. “Because if it is – I certainly want Nedi to have a chance to see him – maybe even hear him talk.”
“The very man!” the neighbor cried. “You have heard of him then??”
Dad said, “I’ve heard he’s kind and loves the Lord. That’s good enough for me.”
“If you are going Nedi, ” my mom said, “you had better take this lunch along – I’ve packed two fish and five small barley loaves.”
“Oh, I won’t need that,” I cried. “Why, the king will feed the poor.”
But dad insisted that I take it – so I did.
So up the road, with lunch in hand – the two of us went. We soon came across a noisy crowd which seemed to stretch out for a mile or so – so we must have been getting near the King.
“That’s Jesus there!” Someone cried out. So I pushed ahead to see --- and there was a man who looked to be as plain and poor as everyone else in the crowd.
I ran up close where I could see better – and possibly hear what he was saying. And I thought to myself – I’m glad I did bring my lunch a long – because this guy doesn’t look much like a king. . .
Then Jesus spoke and his voice was strong: “bring all the sick to me.”
And I saw a bunch of people go to him – and miraculously – the lame who limped up to him – could walk just fine on their way back – in fact, some did so with a skip – and all with a spring in their step. And those who were blind – came back seeing!
As the sick were made whole and well and strong – a shout rose from the crowd: “Our king! Our Messiah! Our Lord!!”
Then Jesus turned and raised his hand and spoke out loud and clear: “The kingdom of heaven which you seek – is already here! This kingdom, God’s kingdom – is full of love and joy ---
why it’s as exciting as someone finding a buried treasure in a field – or after years of searching – finding a peal of great price now safely in their hands!”
The day grew short, and someone said: “I wish we had something to eat.” And so one of the men with Jesus said: “These folks are hungry – but how are they to be fed??”
When I heard that, I ran right up to Jesus and said, “I have some fish and bread – I will gladly share them with the crowd – if that’s what you want.”
That same man with Jesus said with a tone of disgust: “Five loaves – two fish? What good are they for all of these people??”
But Jesus said, “have everyone sit down.” Then he looked up at the sky and prayed: “Thank you, God in heaven, for the generosity of this young boy. May all of us always realize the gifts you constantly shower down upon us – and have hearts generous enough to share what we have been given.”
Then he told those near him: “Feed the crowd” and somehow, and in some way – all the crowd was fed! And there were even leftover -- which filled 12 baskets!
The crowd was impressed by Jesus’ powers. They wanted to make him a king to satisfy all their daily needs.
But Jesus could tell they were misunderstanding the power of God’s kingdom – so he went off by himself to pray.
So, I am Nedi: short for Ned-i-voot – which means generosity in Hebrew. And at least the lesson I learned that day, the point I think Jesus was trying to make – is that God loves each one of us so very much. And God has given each one of us gifts and talents – food and fishes – not to keep to ourselves – but to share. And it is in the sharing – when we can think and act beyond ourselves – that the kingdom of heaven is made present. It’s not something we have to wait for – it is something we can help bring about.
Jesus said it so well in that prayer of his: “May all of us realize the gifts you constantly shower down upon us – and have hearts generous enough to share what we have been given.”
So treasure those who think of you when everyone else is just thinking of themselves.
And may each and every one of you touch people with your gifts. Sometimes may know you have had an effect on them – others times you may not. Either way – you have something to give. And it is in the giving to one another that each of our lives becomes meaningful --- and the kingdom of heaven is made present in our midst. . . [continued]
At the end of Mass, Fr. Matthew had the following to say:
Our 2nd Collection today is for debt reduction. . .
Before Covid hit and the shut down occurred – we were having a great year financially at St. Patrick – our expenses were right at budget along with our income. . . and we even managed to get the parking lot resurfaced – thanks to your generosity through the matching funds earlier this year --- and then of course the bottom fell out of everything – just as it did for you.
With a PPP loan (that is pay roll protection plan loan) and with your continued giving – we were able to finish the fiscal year not as strong as we would have liked – but still, a pretty good year. So thank you for your continued generosity!
A short version of our story is – if you still want us to be around – when you feel safe to return – then please continue to keep current with your giving. I think it is safe to say that a few parishes in our diocese will not weather this storm – but we don’t want to be one of them.
School is set to open on August 19 --- with a larger enrollment than what we ended with last spring – please keep our faculty in students in your prayers over the next few weeks as they prepare to return to school. We are very optimistic about this coming year as a parish and school community.
We continue to miss all of you who cannot join us in person – and look forward to the day when we are all back together agiain.
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