18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18 (16)
Romans 8:35, 37-39
August 2, 2020
All our readings today share the theme of being fed.
In the first reading, the Lord invites “all who are thirsty” to “come to the water,” to “come, receive grain and eat.” All can come “without paying and without cost.’
The Lord extends this invitation in the time of the Babylonian Exile. Many have been taken away in Exile for turning away from the Lord. The Lord invites them to return to him.
The psalmist proclaims, “The hand of the Lord feeds us.” The psalmist says the Lord will give us our food “in due season” and will “satisfy” our desires.
Jesus is drawing large crowds. They see something in him that they desire. Even when He went off to pray by himself, they follow him. When He sees the crowd, “his heart was moved with pity for them.”
He continues to cure and preach.
As the day grew late, the disciples realized the people needed to eat. They also thought that there was no way they could provide food for five thousand men, plus the women and children.
So, they ask Jesus to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” They are not trying to get rid of the people. They do this out of concern for the people.
Jesus said in response, “There is no need for them to go away, give them some food yourselves.”
Their answer is to say that “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” They’re trying to tell Jesus, it looks impossible. He is showing them that God will provide. There are five loaves and two fish. Add five and two together and you get seven. Seven is a biblical number for completeness (seven days of creation). The Lord will answer all our needs.
Jesus does indeed feed the whole crowd. As He prepares to do so, “he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples.” These words should sound familiar. They are the words that the priest says leading to the consecration.
Jesus indeed feeds us. He gives us food for our souls. It is the Eucharist. It is his gift to us, giving us his love.
Paul begins today with the question, “What will separate us from the love of Christ?”
Is it “anguish?” “Distress”? How about “famine”?
No, these things cause us difficultly but they do not separate us from the love of Christ. For example, famine can cause distress. It can be hard to believe that God loves us if we have nothing to eat. Things like the Coronavirus cause us “distress” and “anguish.” Even when we were in shutdown and couldn’t gather together, we may have been separated physically from one another, but we were never separated from the love of Christ.
Out of health concerns, we still do not gather with our entire congregation. For those who cannot come yet, God continues to feed them with spiritual communion. For those of us who are able to gather together, He feeds us with the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood of Jesus.
One of the events that got postponed during the shutdown was First Communion for ten of our children. Now, they have completed their preparation and are receiving their First Communion this weekend.
It is their First Communion. The word “first,” of course, says this is something they have never received before.
The word “first” also signifies it should not be the last time they receive Communion. In fact, it is something we are called to receive frequently. We are to gather for Mass every week.
Have you ever thought about how many times you have received Communion in your life? If one receives First Communion at the age of seven and comes every week, at the age of 75, they would have received over 3,500 times (more if they go to daily Mass.)
When you come up to receive, do you think about what you are receiving? Think about how we receive. We come forth in procession. This is not just functional to come to the priest. Our coming forth in procession for Communion shows our desire to come to Jesus.
We bow before receiving. The act of bowing shows we realize we are receiving our Lord. Following what St. Cyril of Jerusalem said in the fourth century, we put one hand over the other, forming a throne for Jesus our King. To the words “the Body of Christ,” we respond “amen.” Amen means we believe.
Jesus feeds us with the Bread of Life, his very Body. Thanks be to God.