18th Week in Ordinary
1st Reading: Jer 28:1-17
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah, son of Azzur, from Gibeon, said to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will restore to this place all the vessels of the temple of the LORD which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took away from this place to Babylon. And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles of Judah who went to Babylon,’ says the LORD, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’” The prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people assembled in the house of the LORD, and said: Amen! thus may the LORD do! May he fulfil the things you have prophesied by bringing the vessels of the house of the LORD and all the exiles back from Babylon to this place! But now, listen to what I am about to state in your hearing and the hearing of all the people. From of old, the prophets who were before you and me prophesied war, woe, and pestilence against many lands and mighty kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as truly sent by the LORD only when his prophetic prediction is fulfilled. Thereupon the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it, and said in the presence of all the people: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so, within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of all the nations.’” At that, the prophet Jeremiah went away. Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Go tell Hananiah this: Thus says the LORD: By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke! For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I will place on the necks of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him. To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said: Hear this, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, and you have raised false confidence in this people. For this, says the LORD, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth; this very year you shall die, because you have preached rebellion against the LORD. That same year, in the seventh month, Hananiah the prophet died.
Gospel: Mt 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, 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 he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured 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.” He 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 he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over— twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
GIVE THEM SOME FOOD YOURSELVES: The Bible reports many multiplication signs that demonstrate the power and compassion of God. Yahweh provided manna to the Israelites in the desert. In 1 Kings 17:8-16 Yahweh multiplies flour and oil to sustain prophet Elijah and a widow and her son. In 2 Kings 4:42-44 prophet Elisha multiples twenty barley loaves to hundred people. The miracle performed by Jesus reminisces the manna episode as well as the miracles performed by Elijah and Elisha. One of the common elements in the multiplication miracles is God’s concern for the needy. Jesus wants his disciples to become agents of God to alleviate hunger and suffering. He tells the disciples “Give them some food yourselves.” He wanted them to give the little they had to satisfy hunger of the crowd. The message is simple: surrender the little that you have and the Lord will multiply it to provide for many.
Prayer: Lord ask you to help me to care for the needy.
EUCHARIST IS SPIRITUAL FOOD: Food among many African communities has a communal and spiritual dimension. When you visit an African home and you find them at table eating, you are considered a blessing. It is a double blessing if you partake of that meal. However, we experience lack of it many times in times of ravaging draughts. We cry to our leaders like the children of Israel cried to Moses and the disciples to Christ. We see them as intercessors between us and God, for the provision of food to us. The Eucharist is not a physical meal. What is hidden on the cross is seen on the altar with spiritual eyes. This builds our faith in Christ who has given himself to us and will not withhold the physical bread in our times of need.
A CARING GOD: God cares and provides for every creature. Despite the complaints of his people, he ensured that they had food and water even in the desert. Jesus also provides food for the hungry crowd. When man fell into slavery of sin, God sent his Son to come and liberate him. Food provides the body with the necessary energy for growth. Our food production has drastically reduced and our markets are congested with products that are harmful for human consumption. Families waste a lot of food because they prepare more than what they can consume. Jesus could not allow even a single particle of food to be wasted. He asks his disciples to collect the remains. Some people spent more on their pets in terms of food and medication, while people in Africa are dying due to starvation, lack of safe drinking water and proper medication. Only if we care for others shall we make this world a home for all. God has not forgotten his people and will always provide for them.