Sometimes in the Gospel we are given a real insight into the humanity of Jesus. Jesus as man. It is easy to overlook in this passage the beginning of today’s Gospel, as we concentrate on the very well-known story of feeding the five thousand. But look carefully here and we see that Jesus withdrew, by boat to a lonely place. Jesus was upset and just wanted to be with his closest friends and remember his kinsman John whom he had just found out had been executed. Jesus as God will have been fully aware that John’s place in paradise was guaranteed, but as a man, he just wanted to ponder and remember the life of his friend.
However, he was not allowed to ponder, as when he reached the lonely place there were crowds there from neighbouring towns and villages. Crowds, which he “gathered together as a people before the sun went down, those who were sick he healed, those who were hungry he fed and satisfied.”1 Allowing him to carry out the work he was sent to do by his Father.
…you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting, a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.Eucharistic Prayer III
St Matthew’s Gospel here has eucharistic overtones, ignoring the fish; which we know from other sources was also distributed to the people; Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the people to eat.2 This is something we come to Mass to take part in, we are not passive witnesses, we join the priest in prayer and we share the food from the Eucharistic Table. Having been deprived of this spiritual sustenance during the lockdown has given me a real appreciation of the spiritual energy given to the Apostles and handed down to us over the centuries. This is food which satisfies a different hunger; that deep desire in all of us to be closer to God.
As the Catechism says it is a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies (CCC 1000). The Catechism goes on to quote St Irenaeus
Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.3
In today’s first reading God, through the prophet Isaiah, invites people to come to the water and tells them that even if they have no money they will be fed, (just as Jesus did in today’s Gospel). He then asks us all a question – why spend your wages on what fails to satisfy? The only thing which can truly satisfy us is the Word of God, man was created when God spoke, and we will come to the end of our natural life when God decrees it. We are deeply connected to our Creator, everything else, although also created by God, will fail to satisfy.
St Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us that nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus. God loves us no matter what we have done and no matter what we fail to do. God’s love is truly unconditional, and it is never too late for anyone to turn to God and ask for forgiveness.
God does not want to condemn us, if he did, as a species he would have let us perish centuries ago. God has given us so many chances to return to Him, his deepest desire is to have us with Him in His kingdom. It is the reason He sent His only Son into the world to save us from ourselves. He says come to me; all we need to do is respond.
When we look at today’s readings how do we respond? Ask ourselves, what do I spend my wages on? Do I pay attention and go towards the Lord? Do I call on the Lord from my heart? Do I allow things to come between me and God? Do I come to the Lord’s table and eat the bread He has given for me?
The people who gathered that day and sat and ate the bread and the fish would have had no concept that 2,000 years later we would be hearing part of their story. Their story has become part of our story. What are we doing today, to help build God’s kingdom that will still be spoken about in 2 years never mind 2000 years’ time? So, our response to God’s word is important. Do we hear it and let it fall by the wayside, like the seed on the path doomed to wither and die, or do we allow God’s word to bear fruit by our actions? Do we here the dismissal to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” as an instruction or is it just a phrase used to close the Mass?
Each week God’s Word speaks to us, listen anyone who has ears.
Please remember in your prayers
- Those unable to come to church because of illness or because they are shielding under Government guidance.
- Those who have been shielding because of medical conditions who are now being asked to return to work, pray that their employers can make the necessary arrangements to keep them safe.
- Those who are concerned about employment at this time.
- Those who are completing Baptism Preparation sessions this Sunday.
I wish you all a blessed week and pray that you can all find joy in the Peace of Christ.
Deacon Tony Darroch, 1st August 2020.
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1 Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, (The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988)76
2 Robert Draper, Pastoral Review Vol 16 Issue 3 – Breaking the Word, (The Tablet Publishing Company, Twickenham, 2020) 80
3 St Irenaeus quoted from Adv. Haeres Catechism of the Catholic Church – Popular and definitive Edition (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London, 2014) paragraph 1000