Dear Parish Family,
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
If you are unable to attend Mass tomorrow, I will be posting a link to the 8:00 recorded Mass shortly after lunch tomorrow. Many, many thanks to David Madere and David Wright who are doing an awesome job of recording, editing, and uploading these Masses weekly so that those who cannot join us in person at this time can still participate in Mass and Spiritual Communion!
Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-3
says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty, come to the water!
You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
Second Reading: Romans 8:35, 37-39
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21
Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a
deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot
from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was
moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the
disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already
late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for
themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give
them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are
all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the
crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and
looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments that were left over — twelve wicker baskets full. Matthew 14:13-21
In late May, the United States marked the 100,000th death from the coronavirus.
The New York Times marked the grim milestone on its front page on Sunday, May 24 – a front page unlike any front page in the paper’s modern history. Instead of the usual articles, photographs and graphics, the front page ran one long list of one thousand names – one percent of the 100,000 Americans lost to the pandemic. Each entry included the deceased’s name in bold type, age, hometown, and a brief phrase depicting the uniqueness of each life lost:
Lila Fenwick, 87, New York, N.Y., the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law Rabbi Romi Cohn, 91, Brooklyn, N.Y., saved 56 Jewish families from the Gestapo
April Dunn, 33, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was an advocate for disability rights
Coby Adolphy, 44, Chicago, entrepreneur and adventurer
Ken Caley, 59, San Clemente, California, always ready with a one-liner to lighten the mood
Skylar Herbert, 5, Detroit, Michigan’s youngest victim of the coronavirus pandemic
The heartbreaking and breathtaking list of tributes filled the front page and continued for three pages inside the first section of the paper. The Times’ editors selected the names from obituaries published in newspapers across the country.
In an essay accompanying the list, Times’ writer Dan Barry wrote that the project was designed to convey both the vastness and variety of lives lost, he wrote:
“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human condition. A number provides an answer to how many, but it can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the morning and saying goodnight. One hundred thousand. The immensity of such a sudden toll taxes our ability to comprehend, to understand that each number adding up to 100,000 represents someone among us just yesterday. Who was the 1,233rd person to die? The 27,587th? The 98,431st? She may have died in a jam-packed hospital, with no family member at her bedside to whisper a final thank you, Mom, I love you. He may have died in a locked-down nursing home, his wife peering helplessly through a streaked window as part of her slips away. They may have died in subdivided city apartments, too sick or too scared to go to a hospital, their closest relatives a half-world away.
“A number is an imperfect measure when applied to the human beings.
“One. Hundred. Thousand.”
After Jesus feeds the crowd with the bread and fish, his disciples collect the left-over fragments: “twelve wicker baskets full,” Matthew recounts. Those “fragments” are not to be lost; they are part of the miracle. We are all part of the body of Christ: there are no useless scraps, no wasted fragments. The May 24 front page of The New York Times is a compelling reminder that everyone is more than a “fragment” or a label or statistic: every one of us is a child of God, part of the body of Christ that is blessed, broken and shared at this table. We are only whole when every piece, ever fragment, is gathered.
Why do we spend our wages on what fails to satisfy? That’s the question of Isaiah in the first reading. The Israelites had a long history of trying to create their own ways to survive rather than relying on God. The result was disastrous as one king after another ignored one prophet after another. Now Isaiah pleads with the Israelites to try again.
Isaiah’s question about spending our resources on what fails to satisfy is a question for our entire culture. As economic plans are drawn and refined, the issue of how we spend our resources is foremost. We should gauge our priorities by what is good for all and not just a few.
Our readings today are about how God is extravagant in dealing with us. The word extravagant comes from two Latin words, extra and vagari. Literary it means to walk a little farther. The idea of going the extra mile. Later it came to mean to be lavish, to go beyond what is required or necessary. It is extravagant to have 10 cars, to have 100 pairs of shoes, to throw a party for 5,000 guests.
In the first reading God invites people to a banquet of the richest foods. The prophet gives us the feeling of a child invited to a candy store and told to eat all he or she wants. There’s no cost, no necessity to earn anything. God is offering them the fulness of life for free. But it means they have to enter a relationship with God where God is God and not the King or the people.
In the second reading we hear of Jesus’ passionate love for us. There is nothing that can take it away. It is relentlessly poured out on us and Jesus demonstrates this love in his life and death.
And in the Gospel Jesus is eating again, he does a lot of eating and usually with sinners. At meals one shares not only food but friendship, acceptance and esteem. Jesus first fills the multitude with the good news of God’s presence and God’s love for them. Then he acts on this love in a meal. He fed 5,000 men, not counting the women and children. And all had their fill. At the end of the meal there were 12 baskets of leftovers. How extravagant!
It is interesting to note that before Jesus feeds the people, he asks his disciples to do so. Perhaps Jesus is saying something very important to them and us. Jesus is implying that, just as God has been extravagant in love for us, we in turn should be extravagant in our love for each other. Jesus tells us to love each other and then models how we should love – extravagantly.
In the Eucharist Jesus hands himself out for us and says, “Do this in memory of me.” The “this” is a call for us to give our all to and for each other.
We are called daily to this kind of love. Often people hurt us, and sometimes very deeply. We are called to love them extravagantly by forgiving them. What extravagant love Jesus showed when he forgave those who had beaten, reviled and crucified him. Sometimes we are called to accept someone who seems to us unlovable, irritating or a pest. Or maybe we are called to care for and serve someone who makes demands on us and exhausts our energies.
Because we are loved by a God who never counts the cost. In the end we are not depleted of love or kindness.
Here today amongst family we experience again the extravagant love of our God in the love and acceptance of those around us. There is no exchange of money, no bartering. And so here as well in this Eucharist. Jesus makes himself present to us in the bread of this altar.
All four gospels give us an account of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000. So, this is obviously an important message for us as followers of Jesus. And at first glance we may assume that the focus is on the miracle of feeding such a large crowd, the multiplication of the fish and loaves. But Matthew doesn’t record anyone in the crowd being overwhelmed at the miracle. No one says here “You must be the Son of God.” No instead Matthew tells us that everyone ate and was satisfied.
“If you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to what the apostle Paul says to the faithful: ‘You are Christ’s own body, his members’: thus, it is your own mystery which is placed on the Lord’s table. It is your own mystery that you receive … At communion the priest says: ‘The Body of Christ, and you reply AMEN, you are saying yes to what you are.”[St Augustine Sermon 272] The main purpose of every sacrament, and especially of the Eucharist was “the unity of the church.” (Thomas Aquinas)
What makes this meal unique is that it requires of us a change of attitude and behavior. Participation in the Eucharist means that we must allow the attitudes and values of Jesus to influence our attitudes and behavior. We should come away from this celebration renewed in our life with God and his Church and recommitted to our Christian life.
We too are called to multiply the presence of Jesus among us. We have the ability to nourish others. Certainly, we are called to care for the poor and to feed the hungry. But just as in the gospel, as disciples, we are called to be the ones to minister and to be present to those in need. Jesus was more concerned that his disciples were out there with the crowd then that they learn how to multiply the fish and bread.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.