Homily for the eighteenth Sunday of the Year - Year A - Mt. 14:13-21
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" Jesus withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick.
 
" When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, «This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.» Jesus said, «They need not go away; you give them something to eat.» They said to him, «We have only five loaves here and two fish.» And he said, «Bring them here to me.» Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" Jesus withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. "
 
We, who have come together here to celebrate this Eucharist, believe and firmly hope that God has given us the grace of the forgiveness of our sins. For, if this were not true, then why have we come to church? If we have some sin on our conscience, we would not be able to receive within us the Body of Christ: it would be in vain that we had left our home, and made so many efforts, perhaps, to come and participate in this celebration...
 
So we are conscious of the mercy of God towards us: it is thanks to the forgiveness of God, who has healed us of our evil tendencies, that we can take part in this Eucharist. This thought of the divine mercy towards the men and women whom we are is an excellent means through which to understand, a little, the Heart of Jesus, full of love and compassion for all! Above all, we can feel to some extent what was felt by all those people who received from the Lord the healing of their bodies...
 
For we see, in today's gospel, how Jesus was moved by a multitude of people who came to him to be healed of their sicknesses... But, as you very well know, when we are sick, spiritual and moral support help us to overcome the trial and suffering we undergo. The same was true when Jesus approached each of those who wanted to be healed by him: the mere sight of his face, of his eyes full of compassion, was already helpful to them in fighting physical illness...
 
Let us remember Jesus' glance towards Simon, when the Master was about to give his principal disciple the sweet name of Peter: "He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, 'So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas' (which means Peter)." (Jn. 1:42) This is the same glance that Peter saw once again later on, on the night of Holy Thursday, when, more through weakness than through malice, he had just denied his master... But then, this glance said all and was sufficient for all, for Simon-Peter was so touched by it that he already regretted his denial: "And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter." (Lk. 22:60-61)
 
" When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, «This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.» Jesus said, «They need not go away; you give them something to eat.» They said to him, «We have only five loaves here and two fish.» And he said, «Bring them here to me.» "
 
If the Lord Jesus was full of compassion for all those who came to him, if God had lavished upon us so many signs of his great mercy toward us, then how deep, wide, and vast must be our own compassion toward others! Jesus is our model: we are to imitate him, for we are his disciples! Additionally, Jesus gave the following command to his apostles, and thus also to us: "You give them something to eat!" For as numerous today as they were yesterday are the men and women of our world who lack food, above all spiritual food!
 
" Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. "
 
There is nothing optional in our participation in the action of the Lord: we must be the instruments of his divine omnipotence! Indeed, it is not the Lord himself who gives food to the crowd, but rather it is the disciples themselves who do it. Truly, the disciples carry out the command of their master: "You give them something to eat." Let us, we who live in the twenty-first century, also have confidence in the Lord, let us obey him, let us carry out his command and give something to eat to all those we meet on our way!
 
" And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. "
 
How will we give something to eat to the entire world? How will we spread the Good News of Salvation throughout the entire world? Will we have enough money to do this? And what will remain for us afterwards? So many questions find their answers here: the Divine Providence acts and will always act! The proof: there remained twelve baskets full of pieces of bread that had been gathered up after everyone had eaten to their satisfaction!
 
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who participated at that meal and who received herself one of the loaves multiplied by Jesus, watch over each one of us and take us under her protection on the Road of Life!
 

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