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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A – Homily

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Isaiah 55:1-3
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Matthew 14:13-21
August 3, 2014

 

When Jesus got off the boat he was immediately greeted by a vast crowd.  He had gone off to be by himself after hearing of the death of John the Baptist so he could have been upset to see the crowds.  Have you ever thought you just wished people would leave you alone?

That wasn’t Jesus reaction.  When he saw the crowds he was immediately moved with pity for them.  He knew their hunger and their pain.

Since the feeding of the five thousand immediately follows this line, we might rush to think that Jesus knew they needed something to eat and that is why he had pity for them.  Maybe but we should note that there is some break in what we are told because after Jesus is moved with pity the next sentence before the feeding says “when it was evening.”  I don’t know if it was a few minutes or a few hours but some time anyway.  Jesus saw more than just their physical hunger.

The need for physical food is obvious.  The disciples knew this but seeing the vast crowd they saw no way for them to feed them all.  So they told Jesus to dismiss the crowds so the people could find food for themselves.

Jesus had a better way.  From five loaves and two fish, he feed the vast crowd and there was more left over than they started with.

Our need for physical food is real but Jesus’ feeding of the crowd is not just about physical food.  Jesus feeds us not just physical but spiritually.

Let’s take a step back in time to Isaiah.  Isaiah invites all who are thirsty to come to the water and those who are without money to come and receive grain.  Isaiah speaks in terms of physical food but he speaks of a far greater hunger, hunger for God.

The people who Isaiah is speaking to have been in Exile and felt separated from God.  Isaiah assures them that God will nourish them.

Not only is our physical hunger real, so too is our spiritual hunger.  As much as we need physical nourishment we need spiritual nourishment.

When we face anguish or distress or the “sword” we might feel separated from God.  It is precisely in these times that we can feel separated in God, right when we need God most.

Paul is convinced that none of these things separate us from God.  I will say there is one thing that can separate us from God.  It is sin but God can change that too.  The Israelites had been in exile because of their sin but God forgives them.

How does God feed us?

God feeds us in prayer and in scripture.  God feeds us with the grace of his forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  God feeds us with the Body and Blood of Jesus.

We come here to pray and to celebrate the Eucharist.  As we come forth for Communion we receive bread and wine as physical food but of course a little piece of bread, a sip of wine can do little to satisfy our physical hunger and thirst but it feeds us spiritually with infinite grace.

We are fed with the Bread of Life.

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