18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We begin the readings for this week in Isaiah where we hear the Lord inviting us in to a huge feast. “All you who are thirsty come to the water.” This chapter of Isaiah, 55, is the one where parts of the song “Table of Plenty” come from. At the time of the writing Isaiah was saying to the captive Israelites basically “I know that exile sucks but remembers that the Lord our God is pretty cool, it’s like he’s hosting a party and everyone is invited.” As Isaiah brings us to this huge feast where everyone is welcome and it cost nothing, sure it is likely that Isaiah is talking about kingdom of heaven and the eternal feast rather than a physical feast. We need to remember that during the Exodus, the Lord provided manna from heaven and water from rocks, and now during this exile the Lord is still there for us although not providing the manna and water there are more things that the Lord provided now that we have enough food. In the second reading we hear from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Like most of the readings from Paul it bring forth a simple idea we hear that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Paul acknowledges the various problems that we can face anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, death, life, etc. even including present things and future things none of these can take us from the love of God. Turning to the Gospel we finally have a week where there isn’t an option of how long the Gospel reading is. We skip forward about a dozen verses into chapter 14 and hear about a miracle. The multiplication of loaves and fishes and feeding of 5000 men perhaps another at least 5000 woman and children as well are two names for this miracle. The multiplication kind of prefigures the Eucharist feast and also echoes back to the heavenly banquet as we hear about in Isaiah. The Gospel begins in a rather sad spot as Jesus had just heard of the death of his cousin John the Baptist so Jesus goes off by himself in a boat and the crowds follow on foot. When Jesus lands the crowds are already there and Jesus goes about the people curing the sick. The disciples come up to him at some point and say “Hey, Jesus there isn’t much food around here, perhaps we should tell to people to leave and get some food.” Jesus replies to them “What do we have here” “Five loves and two fish.” So Jesus says a prayer over the food and everyone eats and when everyone is sated the leftovers filled twelve wicker baskets. Every time we are at Mass we share in the heavenly feast and it is more than just the sharing of the bread and wine but also in the community around us even if our communities today span several hundred miles.

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