2 AUGUST 2020: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
SHARING THE LIVING WORD
by FR. Emmanuel, our pastor
“Miracle: Feeding Five Thousand”
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Evening!
The main image that is presented in today’s readings for our reflection and prayer is the image of the Banquet. The eschatological banquet in the first reading, the miraculous banquet in the Gospel and the Eucharistic Banquet that we celebrate every day.
Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading is inviting people to the eschatological banquet. The grace of God is compared to freely given food and drink. Isaiah repeatedly assured the people that poverty was not a barrier to their enjoyment of God’s bounty: “You, who have no money, come.” “Come, without paying and without cost.” They are invited to “eat the finest” and “delight in delicacies.” In God’s Kingdom, everyone becomes king, sharing the “benefits assured to David.”
In today’s Gospel, the future banquet of abundance that Isaiah had envisioned is made present in Jesus’ response to the hungry crowd, in the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. The miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle that is found in all four gospels. Jesus always performed miracles in response to the real needs of people. It is true that the disciples felt sympathy for the people: concern about the isolated place, late hour, and crowd’s hunger, and they proposed their solution to the problems: to send them home so that they may buy food and satisfy their hunger. But Jesus has the better solution: Jesus replies, “give them some food yourselves.”
The fear of scarcity: The disciples’ answer “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here” shows their feeling of insufficiency and helplessness.” It reflects their fear and worry. They said, in effect: “The situation is hopeless; nothing can be done.” What we have is so little. They reflect their fear of scarcity. Many a time we share the same feeling: we complain that we don’t have enough: we have not enough money, we do not have good health, not enough time, not enough resources. We start panic about many things in life. Even when we have enough for the present we get too much anxious and worried about the future. The main tragedy is that after having a lot more than we needed we still feel that we don’t have enough. Unless we stop thinking “I don’t have” and start using “what I have” we will never be happy.
The miracle in today’s Gospel takes us away from this feeling of scarcity to a feeling of abundance in the presence of God. In God’s kingdom there is never any scarcity but always there is that superabundance. Every one of us is gifted by the Holy Spirit. The piece of bread or the fish we have, may be our health, wealth or a special talent or an ability that God gave us. We all have something. Let us offer it to God saying, “Here is what I have Lord, use it.” When we place ourselves along with what we have before God we become confident. We start feeling that everything is enough.
When God does miracles He wants our involvement. Jesus tells the disciples to bring to Him what they had. They brought to him five loaves and two fish. Jesus could do the miracle without getting those five loaves. He took them in his hands, blessed it, broke it and gave to the disciples so that they may give them to the people. Again Jesus wanted the disciples involvement in distributing the multiplied bread though he could do it by himself miraculously in everybody’s hands.
Finally, this miracle story in its structure and wordings, is anticipating the Eucharist: the real experience of the heavenly banquet. The five actions, “taking,” “blessing,” “breaking,” “giving,” and “eating,” involved in today’s miracle were used at the Last Supper and are repeated everyday on the altar whenever and wherever the Eucharist is celebrated. These Eucharistic actions become important in our daily life. Our life must become a prolonged Eucharistic celebration. Jesus has taken each one of us to be His own. Jesus has blessed us. Jesus was broken for us in his suffering and death on the cross. So too, we have to be broken and given to others so that we ourselves become Eucharist to everyone else.
Today as we celebrate the Eucharist, let us offer ourselves and what we have, our wealth, our health, time, our desires and plans, our hopes and dreams, our families and our relationships, our concerns and worries, and all our fear and anxiety, in God’s hands and God will bless them, and satisfy us and everyone else.
May God Bless you all! Thank you.