Jesus Takes our Few Resources & Then Performs His Miracle

8th Sunday OT 30 July 11
Is 55: 1-3 :: Ps 144 :: Rom 8: 35-9 :: Mt 14: 13-31
Fr. Matthew Habiger OSB

When we come into a church we know that we are in special place, because this is the house of God. This is where we find the presence of God in special ways. His presence permeates everything here. It is his personality that has drawn each of us here this morning. All the objects in this church space are signs for us. They all point our attention to a presence that is among us, yet is infinitely beyond us.

We hear the Word of God here, words which convey to us the mind and will of God. In the liturgy of the Word, God speaks directly to each one of us. That word is like the rain; it will accomplish in us the purpose for which it was sent. That word will explain to us what God wants from us, how we are to choose and foster all that is good, and how to reject all that leads us away from God.

Here, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we shall witness the great miracle of Jesus coming sacramentally into our midst. At the consecration of the Mass, Jesus becomes present to us: really, truly, in his body and blood, soul and divinity. Jesus comes in order to continue the great deed he performed at Calvary. He makes the total gift of himself to the Father, and he encourages you and me to unite ourselves with his total gift of self to the Father. Then the Father rains down his blessing upon us as we share in a Holy Communion. We feed upon the very body and blood of the Lord. We are strengthened to perform whatever our tasks will be until the next Mass. The love of God renews us, strengthens us, and affirms us.

In the Gospel today, we see Jesus in both his humanity and his divinity. In his humanity see how dejected and depressed he is after King Herod beheaded John the Baptist. Jesus went away to be by himself and regain his composure. The people discovered his whereabouts, and came to him. He took pity on them; he healed their sick, and he taught them the ways of God.  

Then a very important thing happened.

He used this occasion to teach his followers, and you and me, a very important lesson. He wanted his disciples to do something that was a mission impossible. He wanted them to feed a crowd of over 10,000 men and women and children. All the resources that the disciples could put together and provide him were five loaves and two fish. Jesus took these and then performed his miracle. Five loaves and two fish: that was all Jesus needed from the disciples to accomplish his plan.

What does that tell us? If Jesus asks us to do seemingly impossible tasks, then we should not throw up our hands in despair and say, “This is impossible.” Rather, we are to present him with what resources we have, meager though they be, and have total confidence that He will accept them and then perform his miracle.

You and I can do small things; that is natural for us. Jesus can perform his miracles; that is natural for him, and so simple for him, for he is the Son of God.

We all have situations in our lives that, humanly speaking, are nearly impossible to deal with. You may be thinking of the 9.2 % unemployment rate, or the plight of the poor, or problems in your family. I am thinking of even more troubling tragedies, like the present status of marriage and family life. We live in a no-fault divorce culture, and now 50% of all marriages collapse with a divorce. That is not God’s plan for marriage. Our Sunday Visitor recently reports (29 June 11) that the number of marriages for a given year among Catholics has dropped from 415,000 in 1972 to 168,000 in 2010, a decrease of 60%, while the U.S. Catholic population has increased by almost 117 million. And now homosexual activists are pressuring state legislatures to attempt to redefine marriage.

God speaks to us through Isaiah: “Why do your 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. 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” (Is 55: 2-3).

God speaks to us through St. Paul: “What will separate us from the love of Christ: Affliction, difficulties, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, the sword? But in all these things we are easily victorious through him who has loved us.” In all these trying circumstances we are to place our full trust in God. We do what we are called to do. We remain faithful to God’s plan for all the important matters in life: his plan for marriage, for spousal love and for family. We know that God blesses those who seek out his plan for us, and then cooperate with that plan. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God, already manifested in Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

The followers of Jesus have always found themselves at odds with the culture in which they live. Just read the history of Christian communities over the past 20 centuries. But the faith flourished best, and the surrounding society was the most healthy, when Christians were faithful to God’s plan for human life and love, despite the obstacles they met in attempting to live by this plan. These Christian communities were the leaven that transformed their culture by bringing the values of the Gospel to them.

Can it be any different in our times? If we want strong marriages, healthy, happy families, and a just society, then we need to retrieve God’s plan for all of these matters, and then resolve to incorporate that plan into our lives. We first of all set our own house in order. Then we move into the public square and attempt to bring a Catholic and Christian identity into public life. Jesus wants his disciples to bring the values of the Gospel to the whole world, to all of society. No one is excluded. This includes health care, the business world, politics, the defense, education, sports, culture and recreation.

Jesus asked his disciples in today’s Gospel to feed the 10,000 people with material food. But Jesus wanted them to do much more. He wanted them to feed the people’s deeper hungers, their hunger for meaning and purpose in life, their hunger for God who alone can satisfy the longings of the human heart, their hunger for making an irrevocable commitment to a spouse and to a family, or directly to God himself.

It is the same with us. We cannot feel content with supplying the poor and the needy with all their material needs. We must also address ourselves to their greater, more demanding hungers for truth, love, human dignity, and the meaning of human life.

Humanly speaking, this is a mission impossible. If we rely only upon ourselves it is impossible. But Jesus wants us to cooperate with him, to do our small part and then place absolute trust in him to perform his miracle. Then we shall become his people. Then our hungers will be satisfied. Then we shall share in the very love and life that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit delight in sharing among themselves, and among all those who love them.

Prayer of the Faithful

  • For Pope Benedict and the upcoming World Youth day in Madrid, let us pray to the Lord …
  • That our elected representatives may find ways to stimulate an economy that can provide jobs for all job-seekers, and greater productivity …
  • For all those who promote God’s plan for strong marriages and healthy, happy families …
  • For those who carry heavy burdens and look to us for moral and spiritual support …
  • For the gradual removal of all nuclear weapons from all the nations, and the release of funding that could provide for other beneficial purposes …
  • For prisoners and refugees of war …