Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - August 2, 2020
On the Eighteenth Sunday of the Year, the scriptures remind us that God provides us with what we need most. The prophet Isaiah (“All you who are thirsty, come to the water!”), the Responsorial Psalm (“The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”), and the Gospel of Matthew (“They all ate and were satisfied.”) all express God’s concern and care for those who hunger and long for the Lord.
In the Gospel especially, we hear about Jesus feeding the multitude with a compassion and deeply concerned response to their hunger. Despite his weariness and sadness over the death of John the Baptist, Jesus responds personally and powerfully to those in need. After curing their sick, he feeds the multitude. The feeding of the multitude is an episode in Jesus’ life that is recounted in all four Gospels, and it recalls God care for the Israelites in the wilderness and his feeding them with manna, the bread from heaven. The way Jesus feeds the multitude, by blessing, breaking, and distributing the loaves points ahead to the way he fed and continues to feed disciples of all times in the Eucharist.
The abundance of God’s provision for those in need must be noted. Feeding the five thousand (not including women and children) and picking up twelve baskets of leftovers tells us about the abundance of God’s love and gives us a clear indication that God is fulfilling the prophecies of old in the person of Jesus Christ, who is the bread of eternal life. From that time on, the role of Jesus’ disciples is to carry on Jesus’ mission and ministry to care for others. The disciples in the Gospel passage might have felt that they what they had to give was insufficient, but Jesus took it, blessed it, and enabled the disciples to help and minister to the five thousand who were in need. So it is with us: with Jesus’ guidance and help, we are called to bring our faith and our gifts in the service and care of others in need. Jesus clearly reveals that God cares for us all and nourishes us in all our needs. Nothing – not even our hungers and needs – can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in and through Jesus Christ!