18th Sunday Ordinary Time
Year A

Symbol Of Faith

Knute K. Rockne was not only the most noted coach in the athletic history of the University of Notre Dame; he was one of the greatest coaches in the annals of American football.

Rockne's career came to an untimely and tragic end. The airplane in which he was traveling on March 31, 1931, crashed in the countryside near Bazaar, Kansas.

Apparently the authorities who rushed to the scene had difficulty in identifying the bodies of some of the victims. But they had no problem recognizing the famous coach. He was the man with the rosary wound around his hand.

"…I am certain that neither death nor life … will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans, 8:38-39. Today's second reading).

-Father Robert F. McNamara

Q330: Is Jesus playing “games” with the disciples, when he tells them, “give them something yourselves” (Mt 14:13-21)? How can they feed 5,000 men, “not counting women and children”?

No, there are no “games” or tricks being played by Jesus in this situation; there is only a call to faith, a call to use what you have been given to build up the kingdom, and therefore to use your gifts for the greater glory of God.

Did you notice that the “little kid” with the loaves and fishes is not in Matthew’s story? Instead, it is the disciples themselves who have the “little bit” – they say, “WE have nothing here except five loves and a couple of fish.” That is a perfect setting, because it highlights for every Christian (i.e., disciple) that their little bit is what is being called into focus.

Gosh, what a leap of faith we are asked to make! We see no problem in urging on “Indiana Jones” to step out in faith across that invisible bridge at the gorge in Arabia. But we hesitate when the “actor” is us! God is asking us to make available whatever gift(s) we have; to offer those gifts to Him for His blessing; and then to make them available for others. St. Paul would say later, this is the way we build up the mystical Body of Christ.

Here is the Key, one that so many spiritual writers have discovered over the centuries: whatever it is that you have, whatever you offer, if given in a true spirit of love, God will bless that offering and make it become nourishment for many others. It is His Presence that is found in such a gift, because it comes from your Heart, where God dwells!

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! This “massive” feeding of so many thousands of needy people prefigures the “superabundance” of this unique bread of the Eucharist (CCC #1335). The first Christians recognized this miracle of the breaking of the bread not only as the reality of the Real Presence of Jesus, but also as the sign of their call to be in communion with one another as the united Body of Christ (CCC #1329).

Free Lunch

We all know the expression "there ain't no free lunch." In today's readings Isaiah invites us to one. Isaiah was speaking to God's people returning from exile and facing an uncertain future so he wasn't talking just about food. It is a special kind of meal that God invites us to – the Messianic Banquet offered to all in the simple metaphor of sharing a meal. God offers us food that money can't buy, the satisfaction of our deepest needs when the Kingdom comes in its fullness. Years ago when we were young and cameras were not so technological advanced, we often made mistakes and got double exposures. Today's gospel readings is sort of like a double exposure. We get the picture of a marvelous miracle but superimposed on that we see the image of the Eucharistic banquet. By associating the feeding of the multitude with the reading from Isaiah we get another picture overlaying the first two: the image of the messianic banquet, a preview ,so to speak, of coming attractions – the eternal banquet to which we are called to share with all the saints in heaven.

Lord, you open your hand and feed us; you answer all our needs. Trusting in your gracious and merciful love, we look hopefully towards the completion of your mission, when you call us to join in the company of your faithful ones.