18th. Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

July 30, 2014

18th Sunday Of Ordinary Time- Year A.

Commentary Theme for this Sunday:

“Christ Satisfies Our Hunger And Thirst”!

 

The first reading tells us about a promise: one day God will prepare a great banquet to satisfy the hunger and thirst of all humankind.

The psalmist knows this: ‘the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and great in love’.

The second reading assures us that no obstacle can prevent the realization of the plan of salvation of God.

The Gospel, through the multiplication of the loaves, shows us the fulfilment of that prophecy: Jesus is the one to give bread.

 

Guide to ‘Live’ the Sunday Liturgy:

 

It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.

If at all possible, share this Bible Reflection time with a family member, a friend or someone you wish to bring to Christ. Jesus said in Mt. 18:20 – “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”

These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests, bishops and Catholic theologians who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.

These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.

‘Daily Reflections’ and a ‘Prayer’ are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. With faith and perseverance, we will start to put into practice the Lord’s teachings; begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love, God’s will, and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. Meditations and Prayer on the Reflections should be done daily – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

It may be necessary to pray and repeat the study of the Bible Readings and Commentaries more than once, or even on a daily basis, if you feel that you have not yet grasped the Lord’s special message for you.

 

“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.

  In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.

Saint Augustine.

 

 

Commentaries:

Isaiah 55:1-3.                                                                                            

In the first reading Isaiah says, “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen so that you may live.” Fifty years have passed since the destruction of Jerusalem and the start of the dismal period of exile in Babylon. The voice of the prophet begins to rise among the downcast people of Israel living in exile. It announces the imminent fall of the Babylonian empire, the liberation, the return home of the Jewish exiles and the birth of a new and wonderful kingdom.

This future salvation, this period of happiness is compared to a banquet where there will be an abundance of all types of food and drink. The prophet knows, however, that the majority of the exiled are unwilling to take part in the banquet that he is promising; they prefer to stay behind in Babylon. Why run risks? Why seek out new adventures? To these the prophet says: life in exile is not true life and those who are investing their money to stay there forever, are spending their “wages on what fails to satisfy”.

Only those who have the courage to leave, he says, will experience the joy of the banquet prepared for them gratuitously by the Lord. The number of Jews who left Babylon was small. The majority preferred not to risk a new exodus. Those who did return did not find any banquet, were not well received and even met with great difficulties. Had the prophet deceived them? No. They had failed to understand that his words had a much deeper meaning, and would not be realized immediately and that the plan of salvation of God was to be fulfilled in the future, with the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Christ was the one who would prepare a banquet to satisfy all their needs and expectations.

The words of the reading were not referring only to hunger after bread and thirst after water. They referred to the hunger and thirst for happiness, justice, brotherhood, love, fraternity and peace.  Man yearns after all these things even more than bread. But unfortunately people do not always look for answers to these needs and anxieties of theirs where they can find it. Very often, as the reading says, they spend money and effort on what is not ‘true bread’ and for what does not satisfy. Only those who have the fortitude to leave Babylon and take on the risks of a long and difficult journey will find the banquet of the Kingdom. Isaiah used these powerful images to convey to his people what the renewal of the Covenant would bring to Israel. God was willing to try again, if they were. Water, grain wine, milk and another chance. Out of God’s abundance comes our literal salvation.

What land of slavery of ‘self imposed exile’ are we today challenged to leave? What are the risks that we must take?  What are we hungry after? What kind of food should we eat to satisfy our hunger and what kind of water should we drink to quench our thirst? For our life-long journey of faith, Christians need the ‘Bread of Life’ and the ‘Living Water’ given to us in Christ.

Psalm 145:8-9, 15-18.

In the Psalm, we praise the God of the covenant for his care for all his creatures in supplying them with nourishment. This prayer has traditionally been sung at meals.

Romans 8:35, 37-39.

In the second reading Paul exclaims to the Christians in Rome: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Nothing, he continues, “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” While Paul doesn’t use the banquet symbol here, he does stress what is at the very heart of what God gives us – a share in eternal love through Christ Jesus. Paul sees all life, its joys and even its hardships, as a great banquet. This reading is very realistic and practical. Due to the social, political and economic situations in which many of us live, we may feel tempted to choose a life which is contrary to the evangelical principles. Paul is telling us: “Nothing can become between us and the love of Christ”.

Matthew 14:13-21.

In the Gospel Jesus feeds a hungry crowd of over five thousand with only five loaves and a few fish. “All ate and were filled.” And twelve baskets were left over! Through this symbolic action Jesus makes it clear that in him all our needs will be abundantly satisfied.

The food Jesus gives is ‘himself’. And he gives of himself ever so generously to all who seek the truth. The disciples ask Jesus to send the crowds away as they are concerned about the hunger of the people. Instead Jesus asks them to do something about the situation themselves. How do the disciples react to this seemingly impossible request? They tell Jesus that they have only fives loaves and two fish.

The disciples in Matthew’s Gospel are portrayed as people of faith but of a faith that is still weak. Jesus will help them grow in faith. Like the disciples, we all need to be helped by Jesus to grow in our faith. The readiness of the disciples to contribute what they have makes it possible for Jesus to bless their gifts and to feed a great multitude. Without Jesus it would have been impossible. When Jesus’ compassion and our faith come together, miracles begin to happen. The compassionate and trusting attitude of the disciples invites us to imitate them in the way we treat our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

There are countless examples of needs in our communities today. People suffer hunger, sickness, unemployment, and racial or religious discrimination and are victims of crime, violence and wars. It is so easy for us to say:  “The problem is simply too big for me to do anything about it” and walk away from it. The example of the disciples encourages us to give what little help we can and Jesus will do the rest!

All four Gospels state that Jesus took the loaves, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples to distribute to the crowd. These words are those used in the celebration of the Eucharist in the early Christian communities. The early Christians regarded Eucharistic celebrations as the means by which Jesus continued to show his love for them, and fed them in some miraculous way with the little that they themselves had to offer.

We need food, too. Not just for our bodies, but also for our spirits, so that we can become the kind of people God meant us to be. When Jesus fed the crowd he gave them and us a sign that he would give us another kind of food. The crowd he fed that day got hungry again; but if we eat the ‘Bread of Life’, Jesus assures us that we will never be hungry again. That ‘Bread’ is right there on the altar. Soon it will become the ‘Body of Christ’, which we will take and eat.

The Eucharist is the occasion for us to be nourished both by the word of God and the ‘Body and Blood’ of Jesus. Each celebration reminds us that, like Jesus, we must be more concerned about the sick, the hungry and the abandoned and who are looking for Jesus. There is a hunger and a thirst for God and if we as Christians cannot help to satisfy this hunger people will look elsewhere. We need to show them the ‘Way’. It is our baptismal responsibility!

There are people who seldom or never go to Church. Religion, for them is not a felt need. They don’t think they are missing anything, and they wonder why we feel the need. We come every Sunday to Church and even during the week when we can. We cannot always put it into words, but we’re looking for something more than just living. We want to be healthy not only in body but also in spirit. We want to nourish that part of ourselves that seeks a fuller life, open to the infinite, open to God. Each time we eat and drink the ‘Body and Blood of Christ’ we experience what the ‘miracle of the loaves’ was all about.

The abundance of food is also a symbol of that messianic banquet, when death and hunger will no longer stalk our lives (Mt 26:28).

The words of Jesus: ‘Give them something to eat yourselves’ (Mt 14:16) are said to us each time we celebrate our faith in the Holy Eucharist. If we don’t contribute something to the hungry whenever we can, there is no defence for us. Consider what you have – time, money, or food – and start with love and compassion to do what you can, inviting God to do more.

          We all need to begin somewhere. Actions of love and compassion

are a great start.

 

‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:

Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E.     Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.

 

 

Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:

Almighty God and Father, on the… of the week following

the 18th. Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year A, we reflect on ….

 Sun … The question, “Why spend your wages for what fails to satisfy?” might have been written for us today as well. Many people are close to the end of their earthly journey before they realize that they have chased trivialities all their lives and wasted much precious time. The prophet invites us all to return from the various exiles in life that we have placed ourselves into, to go after the spiritual riches that will make us strong enough to face the future. Let us move forward with haste and never look back!

Mon … The words of the reading were not referring only to hunger after bread and thirst after water. They refer to the hunger and thirst for true happiness, justice, brotherhood, love, fraternity and peace. Suppressing spiritual hunger will leave us with a painful emptiness, a yearning that cannot be satisfied by any form of worldly food, stimulation or possessions. Let us look to the ‘Bread of Life’ and the ‘Water in the Well’ that never runs dry.

 Tues … For one who has the courage to leave the ‘Babylon’ of our lives and takes on the risks of a long journey of faith will be welcomed into the ‘banquet of the Kingdom’. From what land and kind of slavery are we asked to leave today? All are invited to the banquet where God can express his bountiful relationship with us, the breaking of the Bread at our Mass each day; we just need to attend.

 Wed … While Paul doesn’t use the banquet symbol, he does stress what is at the heart of what God’s bounty gives us, a share in eternal love through Christ Jesus. Paul sees all of life, its joys and even its hardships, as a ‘great banquet’. Are we this positive about our faith? 

 Thurs … In the Gospel Jesus feeds a hungry crowd of over five thousand with only five loaves and a few fish. “All ate and were filled.” And twelve baskets were left over! Through this symbolic action, Jesus makes it clear that in him all our needs will be abundantly satisfied. Let us offer up what we can to the hungry and ask Jesus to do the rest!  

 Frid Through Jesus’ preaching, ‘the great famine of the word of God’ was over, and there were people in Israel who were recognizing it, and were even willing to travel even into lonely, deserted places without food to find it. How far would you walk to hear God’s word? Some of the people of Israel walked for more than a day. Is our faith and hunger for the truth that strong?

 Sat … Today, the ‘deserted place’ is within ‘ourselves’, but few people have the courage or time to go there and explore that inner space, and wait for God. The result is that we rarely if ever experience what those spiritually hungry people came upon long ago in that deserted place, the power and the presence and the gift of God. Why do we deprive ourselves of such great gifts?

Prayer after the Daily Reflection.

Father, we pray for Your grace and spiritual nourishment and the courage to leave our self-imposed exile in the many forms of a type of Babylon in our lives. Through the Mass You express Your bountiful relationship with us in the gift of the Holy Eucharist. We pray Father that we may strive to become what we receive at the Lord’s Table.

This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.

                                   “Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.

 

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