He Gave Them Food To Eat
For Isaiah, the sign of the messianic times is that through the Messiah God will give to his people an abundance of food and drink. People long for life, and for peace. Prisoners want to be free, the blind wants to see, the hungry wants bread. But likewise, people hunger for consolation, friendship, forgiveness, understanding, acceptance, and justice. These desires are fulfilled when Jesus, the Messiah comes. He gives food to his hungry people. And we, his disciples, have to satisfy the hunger of God’s people today. For he acts through us.
1 Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10A
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, The web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.
Responsorial Psalm: 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6
R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul. R.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage. R.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows. R.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come. R.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37
At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
Isaiah, the Advent prophet, speaks of the final age in very earthly terms: a festive banquet, good wine, and choice food. The use of this sort of language contrasts with our own engagement in God, which is often otherworldly and overly spiritualized. When it comes to many of the basic joys of life, we are a bit Gnostic, a bit inclined to see material goods as somehow evil. The fact is that we are very close to God when we enjoy the earthly blessings he provides. A dinner party with those we love may bring us as close to God as an extended period of silence.
This is why Jesus did not go about telling the disabled to be content with their lot. In today’s Gospel, he restores speech, sight, and healthy limbs. We can only imagine what this meant to people who could not enjoy a beautiful landscape or hear the laughter of little children. Bodily health in this world is a good thing, something we properly strive for. The work of health care professionals, who seek to cure ailments and heal disabilities, is a noble one.
Jesus’ providing of food to his hungry followers is an early Eucharistic reference in the gospel text. Jesus takes the bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread, and gives it to his disciples. This is clearly the language of Eucharist: the Mass is our food for the journey. It too has a very human effect on our lives. Our day is a little brighter, and our step a little lighter.
Faith unquestionably conditions our outlook on life, and the Mass stands at the center of our hope and our trust. The miracles of Jesus changed many people’s lives. The Eucharist does much the same for us. And for that we can only be grateful.
The sign that Jesus, the Messiah, is present among his people is that the hungry are fed. Among us today, do we feed them? Do we care for people and give them what they need? May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!