The Gospel for today

There is a marked contrast in today’s Gospel between how the Lord and the disciples respond to the needs for the crowd.

He has gone away for quiet time with the disciples, but when the corwd appears he sends the disciples to a place apart, and he tends to the crowd.

Then, perhaps irritated that their away day with Jesus has been disrupted the disciples reappear and say ‘send them away’. Maybe they are concerned that the group is hungry and want them to receive the best that the situation allows. Maybe they just want rid of them.

But the situation allows more than they have imagined. And it starts with what (relatively) little they have brought along for themselves. Maybe they have been holding on to this all day, going hungry so they could have the meal when they and Jesus were together once more. Maybe.

But in love and prayer this relatively little becomes sufficient, more than sufficient for the great crowd.

Isaiah said
Come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

 Here it is bread and fish, not wine and milk, but plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more it changes the more it is the same. Love provides, and those loved find that what is lovingly provided more than satisfies.

  • Whose response to the crowd most resembles yours to those in need?

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

14.13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Altar of Multiplication of Loaves, Tabgha, Galilee (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

The second reading for this coming Sunday

It is a pity that the editors of the Lectionary omit v36 of Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans from the second reading set for next Sunday.

Paul speaks from his experience of suffering for the Lord’s sake: v36 gives particular emphasis to that.

Sometimes we ourselves need to cry out naming our pains and the cost of discipleship. The missing verse might give us the courage to lament, not only to trust in the Lord, but to lament the pain and need that mars our life . Lament is not the end of it – in the tradition it leads us to praise. But to praise before we’ve had a good and honest lament can short circuit things, might even make our praise less authentic.

That said, the most important truth of which Paul speaks here is that none of these horrible and painful things can or will separate us from the love of Christ.

We will surely suffer for his sake; we may even die for his sake. But nothing will or can separate us from his love which will make us conquerors through him.

  • When has knowledge of God’s faithfulness and his unfailing hold on us sustained you in trial or temptation?

Romans 8:35,37-39

8.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Image of martyr: Painted Chamber, Commandery, Worcester (c) 2019, Allen Morris.