18th Sunday OTA

 Is 55:1-3; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mat 14: 13-21 

Someone wrote a few years back: “A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million. It depends whose hands it’s in. A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth $19 million. It depends whose hands it’s in. A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal. A rod in Moses’ hands will part the mighty sea. It depends whose hands it’s in. A sling shot in my hands is a kid’s toy. A sling shot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon. It depends whose hands it’s in. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God’s hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hands it’s in.”

Dear Friends! Today’s readings invite us all to think about the provident care of a loving and merciful God who generously shares His riches with us, giving us His Son Jesus as our spiritual food, preparing us for the Heavenly banquet, and challenging us to share our blessings with others.

In the first reading, Isaiah prophesies the return of the Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, promising that their caring God will bless them with fertile soil and abundance in their native land, will pardon their sins and will offer them participation in His eschatological banquet. The Psalmist praises the mercy, forgiveness and maternal care of a loving and providing God. In the second reading, Paul argues that since God loves us, “nothing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The gospel today tells us that when John was put to death, Jesus withdrew by himself. Most likely he needed some time to grieve. But the disciples and the crowd caught up with him. He put his own personal needs aside when he saw the crowd. Matthew and Luke tells us he cured the sick; Mark tells us he taught them. (He probably did both). As the day began to fade, the issue of food came up.

Jesus asked the disciples not send the people away and asked them to give something to eat. Can you imagine how startled the disciples were? They said, “We have nothing here but five loaves of bread and two fish.” Here is something we need to think about; the disciples lived in a small world of limited possibilities, but Jesus lived in a world of unlimited possibilities. They realized they had very limited resources, and the crowd had unlimited need.

But we are not any different from the disciples. How often we have refused to give just because the needs are more? We still see impossibilities when God is wanting us to see possibilities. We, like the disciples, need to see that the situation is not in our hands, but in his hands, and when they are in his hands everything changes. We look at our meager resources and say to God: “But what are these among so many?” And he says to us, “Bring them here to me.” He places his hands upon our pitiful resources and everything changes. This is the formula: We bring God our meager offering and he places his hands on our small gift and causes it to grow thousands of times over. We never have the resources to meet people’s needs. We have nothing, and all we can do is bring our nothing to Jesus and have him turn it into something.

Two fish and 5 loaves St. John’s gospel says they belonged to a boy. The boy gave to Jesus. Result of his generosity; everyone had stomach full. Today’s gospel suggests that one person can make a difference. Or rather, two people can make a difference: one person and Jesus.

Had the boy said no to Jesus, the crowd would have gone unfed, and the Gospel would be without one of its most inspirational stories. We are reminded of Jesus’ words: “A grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies.” What Jesus is saying is this: the miraculous growth of wheat in Kansas wheat fields each summer takes place only because single grains of wheat give up their own existence and die. The survival of the human race depends on this self-sacrifice principle.

God has set up the world in such a way that the action of an individual is important. This is the good news of today’s gospel. It is the good news that a single person is important. It is the good news that one person counts. It is the good news that if we share what we have with Jesus, he can make it bear fruit beyond our wildest dream.  If we offer talents and gifts to Jesus for his work, he can perform miracles with them. But the question is: are you willing to share what you have?