Daily Reflection
August 1st, 1999
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 55:1-3
Rom 8:35, 37-39
Mt 14:13-21
Why do you spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor for  what does not satisfy? - Is. 55
   What will separate us from the love of Christ? - Rom. 8
       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. "  ...

      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.   - Mt. 14

Jesus has just heard about the beheading of John the Baptist.  A terribly evil tragedy.  He withdraws to give himself some time of prayer.  What did he do with his discouragement?  Could he have recalled Isaiah 55?  Did he chew God's comforting words, "Come to me all you who thirst," and the challenging question,  "why spend your money on what is not bread or labor for what does not satisfy?"?

Something happened within him.  A crowd assembles.  The disciples want to send them away.  Does he hear the words, "Come to me ... without pay ... eat well ... a new and everlasting covenant ..." ?  Does John's martyrdom flash through his mind?  Does he come to know at this point that he, too, will surely die?   A terribly evil tragedy?  As a sacrifice?  As a new and everlasting covenant?  In a new passover?  As bread, broken and given?

The disciples want to send the people away, to go and buy food for themselves.  Will his disciples know what to do after his death?  Jesus knows, then and there.  A profound teaching moment has come.  "You give them something to eat."  He must know they will scramble to see that they don't have enough.  He wants them to encounter their own poverty.   They won't become servants of his mission out of their riches - only out of their poverty.

Jesus tells his disciples to bring their poverty to him.  That's what he takes.  He raises his eyes to heaven in thanksgiving.  He blesses God in praise.  He breaks the bread.  He gives them the broken bread to distribute to the people.  It's a miracle.  Poverty and brokenness are transformed into plenty.  They all ate and were satisfied.  Just as Isaiah said.

As his disciple today, whom do I sent away?  Can I taste my own hunger and emptiness?  Can I experience spending my wages on what has failed to satisfy me?  Can I hear the invitation, "Come to me"?   Whom does he mean in my life, when he says, "Give them something yourself"?  Can I offer myself, to be taken, blessed, broken and given, by the Lord, today?  Can I give thanks for the baskets full of left-over broken bread, in so many places all over my life, signs of God's fidelity and power?

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