Readings & Reflections with Cardinal Tagle’s Video: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time A August 3, 2014
The pity of Jesus Christ always results in a New Creation. Christ is not scandalized by human need and want. Rather, the Lord regards every experience of human lack as a prime opportunity to manifest God’s lavishness. From the earliest days, God has beckoned us, promising, “Come, all who are thirsty! Come, you who have no money!” The Lord delights in the dependence that our destitution evokes, and he answers it – in today’s “deserted place” with bread and fish, and in the upper room with his very self. Trial, distress, hunger, and danger do not separate us from the love of Christ. Rather, they draw him close to us with a love that conquers all.
Reading 1IS 55:1-3– Hasten and eat.
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
The word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm PS 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
R/ (cf. 16) The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R/ The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
Reading 2 ROM 8:35, 37-39– No creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The word of the Lord.
Gospel MT 14:13-21– They all ate and were satisfied.
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection 1 – Why spend your money for what is not bread?
It is the sad truth that nothing material will ever suffice and make us feel fulfilled. There will never be enough to fill us full. Nothing in this world will ever bring us what we always say as enough. As long as we look in the wrong places, we will always be left in the middle of nowhere trying to make things to happen for us. Being fulfilled is a state of mind that will never be ours so long as we remain focused on what we can do rather than on what God can do and provide.
The desire of every man is to be financially capable and independent that some go to great lengths of accumulating what will be more than sufficient for economic security. Just what will be enough has eluded every man that all activities are centered on what will ensure its fulfillment sooner than later. We continue to say just a little more today but tomorrow we are still at it and the next day after. Our hearts are so attached to what will bring satisfaction and security that we become very material oriented. God is asking us to respond to this question: “Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?”
In today’s first reading, Moses was so problematic on how to satisfy his flock. He broke down and desperately said to the God: “I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress.”
In today’s gospel, the disciples realized that they did not have enough to feed the five thousand men, not counting women and children. The question that troubled them is exactly the very question that most of us have failed to answer, what is enough? No amount will ever be enough, much more five loaves and the two fish. But what can we do to make things happen?
Jesus came into this world for a reason. If we give our all to Him and allow Him to do His job in us, we will always be full and sufficient. With Jesus, we have more than enough and all things are possible. With Jesus, we can do all things as He strengthens us.
Why focus on things that will never bring the joy of being with our God? Why center on what we can do when we are always limited and handicapped? Why always bring our hearts to something that is utterly beyond us?
God is asking us to place ourselves in His Hands, just as the apostles placed the little basket of five loaves of bread and two fish in the hands of Jesus. With Jesus, we have more than enough. With Him, we have everything.
Today, amidst the seeming collapse of the financial world, God is telling us not to spend our money for what is not bread, our wages for what fails to satisfy. He has promised to care for us and give us all that we need. He is asking us to spend our lives with Him and give our all to Him. When we do that, we have done what is needed. The impossible becomes possible and we are blessed to our amazement and we are more than sufficient.
“There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” As a community, let God’s Word and His sacraments be our food for spiritual strength.
Heavenly Father, I trust that You will always be with me. With You I am more than sufficient. In Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Reflection 2 – In the Hands of God
A man was pleasantly surprised to see his picture in the wallet of his wife. “Oh, I did not know you keep my picture in your wallet!” “Yes,” the wife replied. “When I have a problem, I just look at it, and my problem is gone.” “Really?” the man was ecstatic. “Am I that miraculous to you?” “Oh, yes, darling!” she said. “I look at your picture and ask myself: Is there any problem bigger than this?”
All of us have problems. Nowadays, the most common problem is economic, all about money. When the bills come and we do not have enough money to pay, it invariably causes us a lot of stress and worries.
In the gospel this Sunday, the disciples were in a similar stressful situation. Before them was a very large crowd – 5,000 men, not counting women and children – and they did not have anything to feed them. That is why, when Jesus instructed them, “Give them some food yourselves”, they must have been more confused: “How can we feed these thousands of people when we have barely enough food for ourselves?”
But actually, Jesus gave this instruction to lead them to take stock of their resources and come to admit their own incapacities and helplessness. So, they looked at themselves and realized: “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” But what is that for so many people? The problem is simply beyond their capacity to solve. Thus, they turned to the Lord, and it was, indeed, the right thing to do. This reminded them of what happened in the boat while crossing the turbulent Sea of Galilee. They thought the huge waves might sink the boat, and they were in great danger of drowning. Realizing their utter helplessness, they turned to Jesus who was sleeping at the stern of the boat. They did the right thing.
One real danger we have in our present world is the temptation to become self-sufficient. Seldom do people acknowledge their incapacities and limitations. Tremendous scientific and technological advances have made many people believe in their self-sufficiency. They think and behave as if they can bring everything in this life under their control. This behavior manifests itself in the many anti-life agenda such as contraception, abortion, sterilization, cloning, and various practices in genetic engineering. People tend to resolve issues and problems through purely human efforts and resources. Definitely, the trend in the world nowadays is towards the denial and rejection of God, the fruits of man’s pride, nay hubris, and his unwillingness to admit his limitations and weaknesses.
But no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot deny the fact that we are mortal and limited beings. There are times when our very best is never enough. Without the Lord, we are nothing: “If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor” (Ps 127). Jesus himself said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing”(Jn 15:5). When we turn to the Lord in our weakness, we gain strength. That is why St. Paul gladly admitted his weakness: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Cor 12:10).
This is because “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong” (1Cor 1:27-28). We only need to look at the twelve apostles chosen by Jesus as the main pillars of the Church. Yet they were mostly a bunch of rough uneducated fishermen. St. Therese of the Child Jesus says that God uses weak and imperfect human instruments so that His power becomes most clearly manifest and He is glorified all the more.
Hence, this is an invitation for us to trust, not in our limited human powers and resources, but in God alone. In their moment of helplessness, the disciples turned to the Lord in full and complete trust. They believed beyond doubt that it is only Jesus who can solve their problem. And they were not mistaken. The miracle took place. For, as Peter confessed, Jesus is not just any prophet: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
But Jesus did not do it alone. He asked for the obedience and cooperation of human instruments. For His disciples, it was not easy to obey. How can they feed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread? In the human mind, this is simply ridiculous and impossible. But they did not question the wisdom of His instruction. They simply obeyed, and thereby cooperated in this great miracle.
An ordinary thing can become truly valuable in the hands of an important person. The baseball is just a simple ball. In the hands of an ordinary man, it is worth only a few dollars. But in the hands of Derek Jeter, it is worth half a million dollars. A pen in the hands of a child is only an ordinary writing tool. Yet, the same pen in the hands of the President becomes a powerful tool to enact laws and decrees for the country. Similarly, five loaves of bread and two fish in the hands of the disciples can only feed five persons. But in the hands of Jesus, they provided abundant meal for thousands of people. Three nails in the hands of a carpenter cannot do much to hold a house together. But three nails in the hands and feet of Jesus continue to hold the entire world together until he comes in glory.
This Sunday, let us humbly acknowledge our limitations and nothingness. And let us rejoice in gratitude as we hear the Lord’s loving invitation: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You, who have no money, come, receive grain and eat. Come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk” (Is 55:1). Our resources are limited, but we are challenged to let go of them and trustingly place them in the hands of Jesus. He can solve our financial and economic woes with whatever little we have that we place in His hands.
This is the essence of Divine Economics. God speaks to us through His prophet Malachi: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” (Mal 3:8-10).
Such is the beauty and power of giving tithes. It teaches us to let go of the things we hold in our hands, and offer them to God, no matter how little and insignificant they may be. For when we do, they turn into something infinitely great and valuable. And more importantly, they are multiplied exponentially. For, indeed, God can never be outdone in generosity!
As long as we are in this world, we will always have problems, but we are firm in our belief and trust that, “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.” Only a heart that fully trusts God can be truly generous. May such a heart multiply so that the miracle of the loaves will continue and multiply. Amen! (Source: Fr. Mike Lagrimas, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road, Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422).
Reflection 3 – Lunch Provided
My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:19
Whenever my wife and I plan to spend a day on the road away from home, we do what many people do: We bring along some food for lunch. Shirley often packs sandwiches, fruit, and cold drinks for a pleasant stop along the way. When our children were young, it was even more important to have Cheerios, graham crackers, and juice boxes handy.
The more than 5,000 people who traveled from nearby towns to hear Jesus by the Sea of Galilee apparently didn’t plan ahead. Had they forgotten all about food in their excitement to be near Jesus? Were they surprised when the hunger pangs arrived? We don’t know. But we do know this: One wise mother had packed some bread and fish for her son. It wasn’t much, but what she had prepared for her boy became enough to feed thousands when blessed by the Lord.
Try as we might to prepare for life’s needs, we do not always succeed. The unexpected happens. Then we panic. We’re not sure what to do. It’s at those times that we can rely on our Lord’s willingness and ability to meet our needs–not only physically but spiritually as well. The words of Philippians 4:19 reassure us, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” — David C. Egner
He clothes the lilies, feeds the birds;
Would He to you, then, pay less heed?
Look up to Him with prayerful heart,
He will supply your every need. –Renfrow
God gives enough grace for whatever we face (Source: Our Daily Bread, RBC Ministries).
Reflection 4 –The Lord satisfies our deepest hunger
Purpose: The theme of the readings our Mother the Church offers for our meditation this Sunday, which is always found in the First Reading, in the Psalm, and in the Gospel, is that the Lord is lavishly generous in giving us what we need–most importantly, spiritually. Thus, the homilist may focus on the many hungers of the human person but, particularly, on those of the human heart, and how the Lord satisfies them, especially with the miraculous multiplication of the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.
Readings: Is 55:1-3 • Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18 • Rom 8:35, 27-39 • Mt 14:13-21 http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080314.cfm
The Lord speaks to the children of Israel through the Prophet Isaiah–and he speaks to us–of his great generosity. He uses earthy, sumptuous images–water, grain, wine and milk; eating well, delighting in rich fare–to assure those who have nothing that he will provide for them. Yet, the Lord makes it clear that he speaks of a sustenance superior to worldly food, greater than earthly bread, that ultimately does not satisfy: he is speaking of the nourishment–the life–that his everlasting covenant provides. We who know that the Sacred Scripture of the Old Covenant foretells the New and Eternal Covenant instituted by Jesus–the Covenant we celebrate here today in Jesus’ Body and Blood–knowing that the nourishing life that God promises through his Covenant is his own life, his love, which he lavishly pours into our hearts by grace.
The Psalmist sings the same truth, proclaiming that the Lord graciously answers all our needs, describing our Lord as merciful, kind, good, compassionate, just, and holy. But note: the Psalmist explains that the Lord satisfies the desires of those who look to him hopefully, and call upon him in truth; that is, that the Lord is generous, but that the human person must do his part to accept the Lord’s gifts by opening his heart to ask and to receive what God wants to give him. In fact, the flip-side of God’s lavish generosity is the human need for the virtue of hope: the confident trust that God is our provident Father who gives us, every day, our daily bread–on every level. Yes, God gratuitously gives all that we need, but we can accept or reject it–which is why we must dispose ourselves to receive it. Through prayer and petition, we trustingly call on the Lord for what we need and, so, by exercising our holy desire, and recognizing our status as creatures, needy before our Creator, we dispose ourselves to receive every good gift.
The needy crowds who follow Jesus are desperate for healing, for food, for so many things. What about us? We also have so many needs–material and, more profoundly, spiritual: we struggle with temptation and sin, we suffer many wounds, we are at war with our passions, and with demons, as we make our pilgrim way through this deserted place, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears, to the promised land. As the Psalmist asks elsewhere (Psalm 78:19): “Can the Lord prepare a table in the desert?” Can he? Can he satisfy our needs? Can he truly free us from our temptations and sins, heal our wounds, help us fight off passions and demons? Can he give us the joy and peace, the salvation and love we so deeply desire? Haven’t we learned the hard way, so many times, that worldly things–food, alcohol and other drugs, impurity, movies, vacations, sports–offer us temporary pleasures but not profound, lasting joy? As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, “Deus solus satiat” (“Only God satisfies”). St Teresa of Jesus, of Ávila, simply says, “Sólo Dios basta”(God alone suffices). Indeed, just as Jesus healed and fed the needy crowds, by the thousands, superabundantly–and all were satisfied–so he does for us by every gift of grace. And he does so especially by miraculously multiplying for us the Bread of Life: his greatest, most nourishing gift; the Most Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood, which unites us perfectly to him by sharing in his life of love, healing us and raising us up–satisfying us, feeding us in this desert, as we make our pilgrim way to the promised land of Heaven, where we hope to feast forever at the Supper of the Lamb, eternally satisfied.
Read the source text: http://www.hprweb.com/2014/07/homilies-for-august-2014/
Reflection 5- They all ate and were satisfied
The first reading, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, is an invitation to seek the Lord. Four words stand out: water, wine, bread, everlasting covenant. These words look back to the Old Testament and look forward to sacramental gifts of the Messiah.
During the Exodus, Moses struck the rock in the desert and provided water for the people. Jesus is the new Moses who offers living-giving water to those who believe in him. Isaiah’s invitation to the thirsty to come to the water is fulfilled as an invitation to go to Christ, the source of living water, and to the waters of Baptism. Through Baptism, we are cleansed from sin and welcomed to the wedding banquet of the Messiah.
The second word is wine. The Messiah, the people of Israel knew, would bring the wine of gladness to them. In the miracle at the wedding of Cana, Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah who provides wine for the people (Isaiah 25:6). At the last supper, the wine Jesus gives is truly his own blood to drink.
The third word is bread. Those who thirst, those who hunger, are satisfied, not because they pay money and obtain food that gives earthly life; they are satisfied because they receive freely from God the food of eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus’ miracle of the five loaves and two fish looks back to the Old Testament: to Moses who gave the people manna in the desert, to Elijah who provided and flour for the widow during the famine, and to Elisha who multiplied the twenty loaves for one hundred men. Jesus surpasses all of them and promises something even greater: bread that gives eternal life.
The fourth word is “everlasting covenant”. When we look back, we see the succession of covenants: the creation covenant with Adam and Eve, the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant at Sinai and at Moab, the covenant with David, and the promise of a new and ever-lasting covenant in the prophets. The new covenant of Jesus Christ brings all of these to fulfillment. The water of baptism is our way of entry into the new covenant. It is not a simple ritual washing, but rather a burial with Christ and a rising with Christ. It is a share in his passion, death and resurrection. It is birth to new life. The wine of the Eucharist is the blood of the new covenant; the bread of the Eucharist is the bread of life, the Body of Christ.
The bonds of the New Covenant are strong. Paul asks today, “what can separate us from the love of Christ?” He responds that there is nothing external that can separate us from the love of God: anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword. No creature, no angel, not even death, can separate us from God’s love. However, the sin we commit does separate us from God. God loves us and desires our salvation; our sin, though, is a refusal of that love and that salvation. Remaining in sin is a refusal of his merciful love. We have no need to fear our God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. He is just and holy, near to all who call upon him in truth.