Isaiah 55: 1-3, Psalms 145: 8-9, 15-16, 17-18, Romans 8:35, 37-39, Matthew 14: 13-21
Today’s readings remind us of the benevolence of God, God’s resolute desire and willingness to provide our every need and to care for us in all things.
The first reading starts by mentioning our material needs, such as food and water, but leads us into a reminder to not “spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy.” Here the Lord is reminding us that God is the Bread of Life and provider of all. The Responsorial Psalm reinforces the goodness of God and lays out for the reader some of the many characteristics of our benevolent God: gracious, merciful, compassionate, just, slow to anger, kind, and the giver of hope, to name a few. Then, in the reading from Romans, Paul emphasizes that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Finally, in Matthew’s Gospel – the story of the Loaves and Fish – we experience all that has been spoken in the first and second readings and Psalm 145. Our neediness, hunger, and thirst are set against our Lord’s everlasting goodness. This story, however, puts flesh and bone on the words spoken before. It starts by telling us that Jesus “withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself…”. The reason was that He was grieving the recent loss of John the Baptist. The hope of this story is that Jesus did not get stuck in His grief, but despite this, grief and loss were able to open His heart to the needs of the crowd.
In the midst of the current pandemic and the grief and loss it has caused, we have become the crowd following Jesus, placing our desperation before Him. And, as he looked around at the 5,000, plus women and children, and felt pity and mercy for them, He is feeling our pain now, too. God has not forgotten us. God is with us, with a desire and willingness to provide now, as He did then. Let us not get stuck in our grief, loss, and fear, but as the disciples assisted Jesus and gave the loaves and fish to the crowd, let us too give to each other our Lord’s provisions.
Peggy Roach, Associate