Eighteenth Sunday of the Year Isaiah 55: 1-3; Romans 8: 35 & 37-39; Matthew 14: 13-21
“When evening came, the disciples went to Jesus and said, ‘this is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’”
Hunger is humanity’s most fundamental instinct. At the most basic level we hunger for the food that sustains the body, but beyond this we hunger for all that makes us truly human. We are hungry to love and to be loved, to forgive and to be forgiven, to belong and to find ourselves in others.
Matthew’s account of the feeding of the multitude challenges us, with those first disciples, to examine our own attitudes to hunger. Beyond the needs of a hungry crowd at the end of a long day, it challenges us, in prayer, to consider the many hungers, conscious and unconscious, that govern our daily lives.
Faced with the starving multitude, the first instinct of the apostles was to send the crowd away to feed themselves. Jesus immediately challenged this readiness, so easily, to dismiss the need of others.
“There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.”
Understandably the apostles pointed to the poverty of what they had.
“All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.”
We can readily relate to the inadequacy felt by the apostles in this situation. Life will frequently confront us with situations that expose the poverty of our love and understanding. Jesus did not allow such poverty to absolve his disciples from a care for the crowd, he simply asked them to bring the little that they had. He blessed their poverty, making it a source of plenty to the multitude.
“And breaking the loaves he handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted.”
The feeding of the multitude teaches us that if we are to be a source of life to others, we must first allow our own deepest hungers to bring us to the Lord.
“Oh, come to the water all you who are thirsty. Why spend money on what is not bread, on what fails to satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and you will have good things to eat. Listen and your soul will live.”
May we live in the Lord, whose blessing has embraced our poverty, making it a source of life to others.