16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Theme : We hunger when we forget God!
1st Reading: Isaiah 55:1-3
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 145
2nd Reading: Romans 8:35.37-39
Gospel : Matthew 14: 13-21
- In eastern Europe, there is a sect of Jews known as Hasidim. According to their tradition, their founder – Baal Shem Tov, used to take his disciples into the forest where they would make a fire and dance around it. Baal Shem Tov would then pray aloud until all of them were lifted into a state of ecstasy.
- After the death of their founder, the disciples continued to go to the same spot to light a fire and dance but they forgot the prayer to say and the ritual just did not seem the same any more
- As time went on, they stopped dancing because it did not seem to be so important – especially without the prayer!
- Eventually they stopped lighting the fire and so generations passed and the entire experience was lost!
- The story of the Hasidim Jews is about most groups; most people!
- We forget our traditions and teachings
- We forget our prayers and the words God speaks to us
- We forget what we are about!
- Today’s Gospel invites us to try to remember the life of Jesus!
- To remember his teachings
- To remember his words
- To remember our rituals
- And so, remember what we are truly and most essentially about!
- Jesus’ heart was moved by the hunger of the crowd who had followed him to that deserted place!
- And despite his grief at the death of his cousin, John the Baptist – deep compassion urges him to action!
- How does Jesus act?
- How does he take care of the hunger of the crowds?
- He does not feed the crowd by himself – he uses others – He tells the disciples: “You give them something to eat.”
- The disciples respond by offering excuses and suggesting that the people be sent away!
- Because they do not think that they can do very much;
- their resources are scarce: “they said to him, we have only five loaves here and two fish.”
- Clearly, the disciples had forgotten what they had seen Jesus say and do in the past!
- they had forgotten what he was capable of!
- How often this happens to us too –
- we seek excuses rather than opportunities!
- we doubt rather than trust!
- We try to do it on our own rather than with Jesus!
- We forget what he is capable of!
- Frequently, we behave like the people of the Prophet Isaiah’s time – we hear the invitation to an abundant meal – but we exile ourselves and live with our hunger unsatisfied!
- To be human is to be hungry and in need –
- of love and friendship!
- of forgiveness and compassion!
- of hope and trust!
- Perhaps the hungry are a privileged class
- Because God can fill them with everything they need!
- But this can only happen when we remember Jesus and his invitation to come to the table; the rich banquet of his love and life!
- The Eucharist is our great act of remembrance!
- the only meal that will quench our thirst, and satisfy our hunger!
- The Eucharist reminds us that we are never defeated by our hungers, our desires and our disappointments!
- The Eucharist reminds us that we need to look further, to widen our vision and raise our sights!
- The Eucharist reminds us that we are part of a gifted community capable of healing the world!
- Our community gathers around the table day after day; week after week to remember Jesus!
- He alone meets our needs!
- There is no need for anyone to go away from Jesus to have their needs met – somewhere else!
- When we are faithful to our mission, Jesus is able to meet the needs of people through us; even if we have very little!
- This Eucharist – every Eucharist – should remind us of this!
- Every Eucharist should remind us how to dance around the fire of God’s love!