August 2, 2020: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When Jesus saw the vast crowds he took pity on them and healed their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away. Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then Jesus took the loaves and fishes, lifted them up and blessed them, sharing first with the disciples who in turn shared with the rest.
They all ate and were satisfied, and picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand.
When Sister Joni arrived at Rosary Hill several years ago, we occasionally invited sisters for dinner. On one of those occasions she asked if she could invite a sister that I barely knew and was not very comfortable with because of her “unusual behavior.” I think the look on my face must have said more than I thought because she quickly said maybe a later time would be better. As we packed up the leftovers for the sisters to take home, I felt like I was doing clean-up for the loaves and fishes gathering. Abundance!
In our conversation doing dishes Joni shared with me the differences in our cultures. In her Hispanic culture everyone is always invited. There is always enough! The idea of someone not being invited when other members of her family are included just wouldn’t happen. They would come anyway and they would have enough. To further illustrate the point, her (Joni’s) now sister-in-law was dismayed that family and friends did not respond to any of the R.S.V.P.s usually associated with wedding celebrations. On the other hand, family and friends would be insulted to think that their closeness would demand some sign that they would be present. Of course they would always come! No paper needed.
What actions can we take to make this Gospel come alive? Here are some questions to consider.
Thinking of this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, what issues are being raised that may not immediately be apparent as it relates to the message of Jesus for us today, this week, next…? Who is acceptable at the table of Jesus? Who can live in our neighborhoods? Eat in our neighborhood? Would Jesus support “Black Lives Matter?” Who is our neighbor as Jesus defines her/him?