Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading an article on the internet when a survey popped up for me to complete… 3-5 mins. Normally, I would hit delete and keep on reading. However, this one caught my interest. The survey was from the University of Maryland on how well ‘we’ as a society are handling the pandemic “emotionally” thus far. Questions on how I felt about going to grocery store, pharmacy, restaurants, … and how I felt about wearing a mask and how many times I had actually worn one in the past week. Also, was I nervous about catching the virus, how many times during the day did I washed my hands? Was I struggling with anxiety or depression because of the pandemic? I completed the survey and now will wait for the results. Our world in modern times has never been in this situation before. Therefore all the information that we can provide to a ‘valid’ source is very much needed and will help us in the days ahead. In other words, God continues to take what we offer, bless it, magnify it and share it with others.
In the First Reading, Isaiah reminds us to “Come…all who are thirsty… come and drink, eat, come without money and enjoy…” In other words, come to the abundance of what God has to offer: love, mercy, compassion, an understanding heart, the God who embraces, reconciles and heal. In the Second Reading we are reminded that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ: hardship, distress, persecution, the sword, covid 19 ? NO! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Spend some time pondering this reading alone, have a mini-retreat at home. Nothing can separate us from the love of God because God’s love is so abundant!
The Gospel for today is all about abundance: We heard how Jesus goes to a deserted place and prays, no doubt mourning the death of John the Baptist. Then he sees them coming, a great crowd of people looking for him. And how did Jesus respond to them? “He had compassion for them and cured their sick…” After feeding their souls, with hospitality, healing and teachings, the disciples want to send them away to get food. Jesus is blunt with them: “you give them something to eat!” Jesus empowers his followers to minister to the large crowd… just as he empowers us to do the same.
The need is great but so is the love of God. Have you ever tried to get 5000 people to sit down at once? And yet Jesus does… this tells us that the large crowd has already been listening to him and his teachings. So we heard that everyone is sitting and Jesus takes the fish and the bread and the following verbs are used: take, bless, break, gave, eat. Where have we heard those words before? Yes, at the Mass. Jesus feeds the massive crowd until they’re filled and collects the leftovers… 12 baskets full… symbolic that none of our gifts are wasted.
And yet, look at what Jesus does with our “loaves and fish”. It may not look like much, but God blesses it and magnifies it anyway: the ‘loaves and fish’ of a simple masks to protect others; or how we wash our hands and use sanitizers. As well as the ‘loaves and fish’ of social distancing…. and yet we can still gather and pray together. The ‘loaves and fish’ of our pandemic committee, committed to this ministry so that we can celebrate Eucharist. Or in our own faith community, look at the ‘loaves and fish’ that we offer to this parish, found in our Accountability Report… it’s a feast!!
Again, we should never underestimate or doubt what our God… the God of abundance… the God of love can do with what we have to offer: a simple mask, some social distancing, a yearly accountability report, or a 3 minute survey… after all look what the Lord did with 2 fish and a few loaves of bread!