for the eighteenth Sunday of the Year
Is 55:1-3 - Rom 8:35 & 37-39 - Mt 14:13-21
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
The free gift of God
Is 55:1, Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2, Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness. 3, Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
Every gift from God is free. For God is the supreme Good. This means that God is perfect in himself and that nothing can be given to him that he does not already have as a supreme, perfect, and infinite Being.
God gives freely, and what he gives is his grace. Now, every free gift, and thus every free gift from God, proceeds from love: by giving us his grace, God, who "is Love" (1 Jn 4:8), gives us a testimony of his love for us. Since love requires freedom, it is thus freely that God gives us his grace, if he wants to, when he wants to, and how he wants to.
Faced with God's free and freely-given Love, what will we do? What do we already do? Can we remain indifferent? Must we respond to God's Love? So many questions that we ask ourselves from time to time...
It is clear that we remain free to respond or not respond to God's Love. This is the drama of all human History. Let us recall Adam and Eve. Tempted by the serpent, that is to say the devil, they both preferred a created good to the uncreated Good, which is God. And they sinned.
God wants to make a covenant with man, in Love, but man does not want to do so. As the Prophet Isaiah says in today's first reading, allowing the Lord to speak directly to us: "I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David." (Is 55:3) So God did not hesitate. He sent his Son, freely, in order to reestablish the friendship that is possible between God and man, and to establish a new and eternal Covenant, in the Blood of his Son.
The first beneficiary of this new Covenant in Christ is and will always remain the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, she who is "full of grace" (Lk 1:35). Thanks to the Covenant between God and man, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, became the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit who is God's Gift, and God's Gift of Himself. May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary truly be for us the Mediatrix of all the graces of God!
Rom 8:35 & 37-39
Rom 8:35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 37, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38, For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the terrestrial Paradise, God tested Adam and Eve. God wanted to know if the man and woman he had created truly loved him. Alas, as we have said, they sinned. Since that time, God always searches for men and women faithful to his Love, such as the holy man Job.
"There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, «Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?» So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord, and afflicted Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. Then his wife said to him, «Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God, and die.» But he said to her, «You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?» In all this Job did not sin with his lips." (Job 2:1...10)
God loves us! Even if he places obstacles in our path and sprinkles into our life times that are sometimes good and sometimes bad, God does not stop loving us: it is true, let us believe it! This is what Saint Paul says in the second reading for this Sunday: "I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 8:38)
Of course, it remains for us to ask ourself this question: if God loves us and continues to love us, will we also continue to love God? There is no answer to this question, for the question is badly put. Indeed, Saint John tells us: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins." (1 Jn 4:10) And: "We love, because he first loved us." (1 Jn 4:19) Let us believe that God loves us and let us have confidence in the grace that he does not cease to give us in his almighty love! Then nothing could separate us from God's love and Christ's love!
Mt 14:13, Now when Jesus heard this, he 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. 14, As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. 15, 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.» 16, Jesus said, «They need not go away; you give them something to eat.» 17, They said to him, «We have only five loaves here and two fish.» 18, And he said, «Bring them here to me.» 19, 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. 20, And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21, And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This Sunday's gospel could not be clearer in showing us how great, immense, overflowing is God's love for mankind! Jesus heals the sick, spends a long time teaching the crowds, and finally multiplies the loaves and fishes in order that all might eat their fill!
Similarly, in our life, if we pay attention, we will see that God has given us so many graces, such as Baptism, and all the benefits of the Redemption. The same can also be said of our parents, and all our family, friends and everyone close to us throughout our lives. Let us thank God for so many graces!
Above all, let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to thank the Lord for us and with us, offering to God, through Mary, our freedom and all our heart!