YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: SOMETHING TO EAT
BY: Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: A journalist went to a public to interview people randomly. He asked a robust young man “Can you describe yourself in one word?” The young man answered “All I can say about myself is I am always hungry!”
Broadly speaking, this young man is very right because human beings are always hungry for food, for knowledge, for change, for love, for money, for pleasure, etc. We are always hungry as we have various needs, appetites, desires, longings and aspirations. This is why we work hard to satisfy our material, carnal, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual hunger needs. Hunger is indeed a sign that we are alive.
We can imagine the situation of the crowd who were in a deserted place with Jesus. They walked a long distance to meet Jesus and they were with him all day long. They were hungry and it was getting late. The disciples approached Jesus to dismiss them so that they can go and get some 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 he said, “Bring them here to me” (Matthew 14:16-18)
The disciples wondered what five loaves and two fish could do to such a large crowd. But Jesus took the loaves and fish and prayed over them, and distributed them to the crowd of over 10,000 (wives and children included). After the distribution of the loaves and fish to the crowd, they still had a left over of 12 baskets. The multiplication of the loaves is an amazing event. This is the one miracle that is recorded in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). This miracle demonstrates that little is much when God is in it. Therefore, we can use the little we have to achieve much. The miracle is an optimistic approach to life and shows the power of faith in bringing about great things. If you think it is going to rain. It will!
In addition, the miracle reminds us of how God pulls out surprises all the time. For example, on several occasions he worked with a few armies to defeat battalions; he uses the weak to shame the strong; he puts down the mighty and raises the lowly; he turns the smallest mustard seed into the largest shrub of all. He is a God who provides food in a desert where the human person is totally helpless. He provides daily bread to humans and beasts.
The Gospel story says “They all ate and were satisfied.” How was it possible to distribute food to such a crowd and get everyone contented? It is hard to satisfy three people, let alone 10,000 people. The crowd was satisfied because it was a food fellowship. They found joy in eating and sharing together. The theologian John Fullenbach says: “Food and meals are not just means for staying alive, at least not for the oriental. For him every table fellowship is a guarantee of peace, of trust, of brotherhood.” Therefore, there is a sense of satisfaction where there is sharing.
We all crave for satisfaction in life. There are many people who have a deep sense of dissatisfaction. But what is it that gives complete satisfaction? Certainly, not material things alone! This is why Jesus says: “Man cannot live on bread alone” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4) and he declares himself as the bread of life (John 6:35). If Christ is truly the bread of life, Paul wonders what will separate him from this bread of life, Christ (Romans 8:35). The secret of happiness is not only in satisfying the appetite of stomach, but also in satisfying the longing of the soul. We get satisfaction through physical food, but it is the spiritual food that leads us to a satisfactory and fulfilled life.
The prophet Isaiah warns his people not to get so engrossed in searching for ordinary bread and forget the extraordinary bread. Isaiah asks: Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2). Very often we chose to satisfy the senses and starve the spirit. As we hunger for our daily bread, we should hunger even more fervently for the food of the spirit, the bread of life, for righteousness, peace and joy.
18th Sunday of the Year A; Isaiah 55:1-3; Romans 8:35, 37-39; Matthew 14:13-21;