Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Loaves&Fishes Ravenna mosaic. jpg.jpg

 

Matthew 14: 13-21

“Give them something to eat yourselves”

Jesus had just heard that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by Herod and, quite naturally, he wanted to be alone with his own thoughts for a while. But the crowds would not let him; they couldn’t get enough of him even when he was in mourning; so they followed him. And when he saw the great crowds gathering round him, far from annoyance, Jesus took pity on them. Later, when evening came and the crowds were hungry, Jesus asked his disciples to share his own spirit of pity and compassion and to give them something to eat. To feed such a crowd? Out here? Impossible.

Notice how Matthew describes Jesus taking, blessing, breaking and giving the bread. This is the language of the Eucharist. The feeding of the five thousand is a sign and anticipation of the feeding Christ offers to us in our celebration of the Eucharist. In return he commits us to feeding the hungry, to caring for those in the wilderness of this life. The Lord not only calls us to himself to be fed, he also sends us out to feed - to give as we have received, to love as we have been loved. In the gospel reading it was through his disciples that Jesus fed the multitude and he says to us as he said to them 'give them something to eat yourselves.'

Faced with the sheer enormity of today’s hungry people – with the very scale of poverty and starvation around us – with the effects of greed, injustice and wars over which we have no control – and with the reality of long-term drought which seems to strike especially at the poorest – we might argue, like the disciples, that we really do not have enough to make any difference – that, really, there is very little we can do. Challenged by the Eucharist, we will do the little we can, and allow the Lord to make of it what use he will.