St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Priest Musings

Crumbs of Bread
by Fr Roberto Ubertino

Text Box:  each crumb on the discos = a person    A few days ago we shared a simple supper with Fr Zacharias at the LTS house. It was a simple moment filled with fraternal spirit. Father Zacharias commented on the fact that we should never waste food recalling how Jesus commanded his disciples to gather the crumbs from the miracle of the loaves. “Gather the crumbs so that nothing would be lost”. John 6:12

As I reflected on our conversation, and the gospel that Father Zacharias was referring to, I was lead to a new understanding of the life and work of the Mission. For fifteen years now we have been breaking bread under the large fresco that dominates the Mission refectory. I often have commented how this 20 feet long icon of the multiplication of the loaves is a daily reminder of this miracle at the Mission. The miracle of how every day, now for over 28 years, a poor-of-means community has never turned a single person away because of no food.

That evening Fr Zacharias' words opened another door into this miracle for me. This miracle of Christ continues among us because we gather each day the crumbs .so that none may get lost. We gather these crumbs with humility and gratitude. The infinite and abundant providential care of the Lord towards us is manifested in our willingness to gather up the crumbs. It is in the humble crumb of bread that this miracle is made permanently present in the Church.

Therefore I need to pay attention to the crumbs. The attention I may give to someone who is suffering may only seem like a crumb; the programs we may offer are only crumbs in the face of the needs of the people - yet these are the crumbs the Lord asked his apostles to gather so that no-one may be lost.

We all suffer, even in the Church, from this passion of wanting to be effective. We don’t dare start something unless we have all the means to succeed in the eyes of the world. So many of our programs promise life- changing experiences. We don’t want to appear poor, simple, and insignificant. We compete on YouTube, and many other ways, so as to appear useful and important. Why waste time with Helen when I could change the world? Why struggle with the bakery when I could be giving conferences on helping the poor throughout North America? Why help a few people find work when we could change the lives of thousands? Yet the Lord is in the crumbs. He is found speaking to a bent over old woman; he sits besides Lazarus at the gate; his Kingdom is in the mustard seed, in a pinch of salt, a speck of yeast.

I discovered that evening, and in talking to a brother later the next day, that this miracle is a call to learn to do small things well. To follow a path that closely follows the way of Christ the way of poverty, vulnerability and humility. Only in this way we can be tender with one another because, as St. Theophan the Recluse reminds us, "we are always only poor naked". We will never achieve the heights of the great saints of the church, but maybe our way is through humility and gentleness. It is ok to be just a crumb in the hands of the Lord and his apostles.

We have tried very hard to make the Mission known to the church and what I learned that evening is that we just ended up competing with other more impressive charities. When instead we simply gather the crumbs, this frees us to simply live and be what we are in the hands of Christ. He calls us to look for what is humble rather than what appears important; to minister from below to people, rather from the top; to pay attention to the widow's mite and the beggar who is blind. To delight in Janice and Stephen and Elizabeth - all the people who seem to get in the way of more important work.

Once an old nun, commenting on the Consecrated Bread, reminded me that, “He is also in the crumbs”. Yes, He is in the crumbs and our life at the mission is a call to gather the crumbs of the Lord. With these the Lord will continue to feed us and all His people.

Yes, He is also in the crumbs!


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