Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD AND WE SHARE OUR MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL FOOD WITH OTHERS
- Isaiah 55:1-3;
- Psalm 144:8-9. 15-18. R/ v. 16;
- Romans 8:35. 37-39
- Matthew 14:13-21
1. Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord gives us material and spiritual food! The gospel today tells us that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish and gave thanks to God and he broke the loaves and gave them to the people to eat. The people ate as much as they wanted and they collected the leftovers which filled twelve baskets! Those who ate numbered five thousand men and if we include women and children the number would have been twenty to thirty thousand! (New Jerome Biblical Commentary)
The gospel today tells us that Jesus did three important things! First, he thanked God! The prayer of thanksgiving is most important! Even before we ask God for anything, we must thank God for everything! An American Creation theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough! Even if we start thanking God here and now we will not finish thanking him even at the end of the world!
The word Eucharist in Greek means “thanksgiving” and in the Eucharistic Prayer we first thank God before we ask him for anything! But today there are people who not only do not thank God but they do not believe in God at all! That is why they never come to Mass at all! That is why it is important that you bring them to Mass every Sunday!
The second thing that Jesus did was to break the loaves and give them to the people to eat! That is sharing! There is enough for everyone’s need but there is not enough for everyone’s greed! That is, if we share, then there will be enough for everyone! The Youth Catechism (YOUCAT; 448) tells us that:
“God has entrusted to us a rich earth that could offer all men sufficient food and living space. Yet ….There are more than a billion people living on this earth who must make do with less than one dollar per day. They suffer from a lack of food and clean drinking water; most of them have no access to education or medical care. It is estimated that more than 25,000 people die every day from malnutrition. Many of them are children.”
The Youth Catechism tells us that we have to share! We have to practice charity and justice towards the poor and needy!
The third thing that Jesus did is expressed more explicitly in a parallel verse in John 6:12 (Mt 14:20):
“When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing is wasted.’” (New Jerusalem Bible (NJB))
Waste not, want not! Indeed it is our wasteful and greedy lifestyle that is destroying our environment today! We have to live a simple lifestyle to save our environment today! Thus Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Message for World day of Peace (1 January 1990):
“Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its lifestyle. … Simplicity, moderation and discipline, as well as a spirit of sacrifice, must become a part of everyday life. … .”
The gospel today also tells us that the Lord does not only give us material food, but he also gives us spiritual food! Thus the four actions of Jesus, that is, take, thank/bless, break and give, correspond to the four actions of the Eucharist, that is, take (Offertory), thank/bless (Eucharistic Prayer), break (Breaking of the Bread), and give (Holy Communion)! But our Sunday Mass has two parts, that is, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Sunday Missal (SM); Mt 4:4)
We must come to Mass every Sunday to eat the spiritual food of the Word and the Eucharist! We must not come to Mass late for the spiritual food of the Word; instead we must come to Mass early to read the Word of God before Mass!
2. The first reading today tells us that the Lord gives us spiritual food! Thus we read:
“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty; though you have no money, come! Buy corn without money, and eat, and, at no cost, wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not bread, your wages on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy. Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live. With you I will make an everlasting covenant out of the favors promised to David.” (SM; Is 55:1-3)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“You open wide your hand, O Lord, you grant our desires.” (SM; Ps 144:16)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that “the Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps 144:8; Ex 34:6). The second stanza tells us that the Lord gives us food! Material and spiritual food! The third stanza tells us that the Lord is just and loving and he listens to our prayers!
4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ! That is, nothing can stop God from loving us and nothing can stop us from loving God! God first loved us that is why we love God and neighbor as we love ourselves! Thus the greatest commandment of all:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (NJB; Lk 10:27) This is the greatest commandment because this is our salvation!
5. Today we thank God for our material and spiritual food and we ask God to help us share our material and spiritual food with others! Today we also thank God for his love and we ask God to help us love him and love our neighbor as we love ourselves! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.