Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A

by Fr Odise SDB

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In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah (Is 55:1-3) the Lord invites Israel to come and enjoy the nourishing presence of God and His blessings, and thereby experience spiritual satisfaction. This section highlights not only the amazing provisions of God, but also that these provisions are free. In contrast to those who charge the thirsty for a drink, God offers drink to his people, not only water, but wine also. In addition, all these are for mahhala (free of charge) (v. 1). The rhetorical questions (v. 2) continue the previous thought, emphasising the futility of spending hard-earned money on food that will not nourish. God calls His people to eat what is good and rich without charge. The figurative nature of the previous verses is evident in what follows (v. 3). Though physical sustenance will surely be provided, Israel will be sustained through their obedience to the Lord and His provision of the everlasting covenant, a reference to the new covenant (see Jr 31:31-34), guaranteeing God’s ongoing nourishment.

Then in our second reading Saint Paul (Rom 8:35.37-39) indicates those visible threats (v. 35), including the prospect of death by persecution (sword), cannot separate the believer from God’s love. On the contrary, in spite of these, the believer overwhelmingly conquers (“we are hyper-victors”). In (v. 38-39, invisible threats cannot tear the believer from God’s love. Paul concludes the list with the phrase nor any other created thing, which includes both the devil and the believer. At the first look it seems that we are all set! Nevertheless, this does not mean that we are untouchable, immune from sin, on the contrary, we still have to keep up the good fight against sin and to finish the race (See 2Tim 4:7), then to enjoy the crown of eternal salvation.

Let us ask ourselves, which are those things that can separate me from the love of Christ? Think a bit and make a list with them. From that list 📃take only the main concern, entrust it to God and work on it during the coming week. Do not allow that … to separate you from Christ, the unending joy of the eternal life.

In today’s Gospel (Mt 14:13-21) we have a miraculous feeding of a large crowd (see also Mk. 6:32–44; Lk. 9:10–17). Luke tells us that the solitary place was near Bethesda, across the northern end of the lake and outside the territory of Herod Antipas. That a large crowd was anxious to follow Jesus there may suggest, that this might be not just a gathering, but a deliberate popular movement to force Jesus into political action. However, Matthew does not draw attention to this. For him, the story was a vivid expression of the compassion and the miraculous power of Jesus. Jewish readers could hardly have failed to note the parallel to other miraculous feedings in the Old Testament (e.g., through Moses, Exodus 16; Elijah, 1Kg 17:8-16, and Elisha, 2Kg 4:1-7). Jesus is again seen as the ‘one greater’ (cf. 12:6, 41, 42) than the ancient prophets.

To eat together was a symbol of unity. Jesus acted as host to a large family gathering, and thus welcomed the crowd into a new community. While the menu was not out of the ordinary, perhaps we should see this meal as a deliberate foretaste of the Messianic banquet (see Mt 8:11–12); sit down (19) is a relatively formal word for reclining at a banquet. It is also hardly accidental that the verbs in v 19 (‘take’, ‘give thanks’, ‘break’, ‘give’) are those used in the NT accounts of the Last Supper. The meal did, of course, satisfy hunger (20), but Matthew apparently sees it also as a symbolic act of communion in the newly established kingdom of heaven. It is interesting the fact that Jesus did not try to avoid the crowd by sending them away or just to do the miracle by himself and finish up that matter. In contrary, he does not allow the disciples to send them away, but he ask them to give something to eat. Therefore, his challenge in v 16, Jesus deliberately drew the disciples into the action and he used the provisions which they could supply to satisfy with food a great multitude of people. Through their involvement and their sharing (and perhaps particularly through the remarkable experience of clearing up far more than they had brought in the first place) the disciples could learn that it is enough to bring to Jesus and entrust to him that little that they have and he will transform them in abundance.

Think about what you do in difficult moments of your life? Do you try to avoid or to face the problems? Do you bring them to Jesus in your prayer? Are you able to share your little with the others or do you go to bury your talent as you are afraid of loosing everything. Our faith in Jesus should be like the faith of a farmer who is not afraid to throw even the last seed in the ground with the hope that he is going to receive a 💯 times more for each of them.

Let us ask God’s grace to increase our faith in Him that we too may be able to share what we have, that we may receive what we do not have, because it is by giving that we receive and by receiving that we are able to give. God bless you all, and have a blessed week ahead.