August 2, 2020 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080220.cfm)
Who among us here who have not yet experienced hunger? I am sure each of us have experienced that feeling of being hungry since we were babies. Babies especially would always cry when they are hungry. A parent’s automatic response to a crying baby is to feed the baby with milk. When the baby starts sucking, the baby also stops from crying. When we become adults, we continue such behavior though we do not cry anymore but feed ourselves with food that can satisfy our physical hunger.
At the beginning of this quarantine and lockdowns, we have also experienced how we have become anxious from running out of food during this pandemic. News reports all over the world told us of panic buying. People were fighting over some supplies, and many essential goods also run out of supply. People bought many things to satisfy not their hunger, but their anxiety of what is to come tomorrow.
Aside from this, there are also many other forms of hunger in us, such us our hunger for acceptance, for recognition, for friendship, for love and intimacy, for justice, for peace and reconciliation.
And in our search to satisfy those longings and hungers, we are sometimes led to resort to the promises of “instant satisfaction” and to an “immediate result.”Tweet
Their consequences become destructive, unhelpful and the corruption of life. Addictions such as in alcohol, drugs, sex or food are ways to satisfy our deepest hunger. Yet, because they only promise an instant gratification and so we hold on to those addictions to numb our hunger for love, for attention and intimacy.
Our obsessive fixations in spending too much time in social media, or online games or with gadgets, can remove us from the true and personal encounter with people. Because of the lack of human connection, we divert our need into what is temporary, virtual and not real.
Our compulsive behaviors in gossiping, in defaming people and in finding the faults and weaknesses of others seemingly give us the image of a good person, righteous than others. However, these behaviors only blind us of our true longing to be recognized and be appreciated.
Our obsession to be powerful, to exercise dominance and control over the weak and to resort to violent and aggressive actions apparently make us confident, independent and strong willed. However, they too blind us from that hunger to find our true self and our true potentials.
That’s why, God in his goodness would always invite us to come to him so that our hunger will be satisfied and our longing will be fulfilled. This is what our first reading told us today. The Book of Isaiah tells us of God’s invitation to come, to eat and be satisfied. God invites his people to come to him, to recognize God as the source and fountain of good and wonderful things in life. This is an assurance of God to the people that indeed, in God they shall be satisfied. Yet, there is something interesting behind this invitation.
This particular verses in the Book of Isaiah were addressed to the people of Israel who were exiled in a foreign land. And a time has come that they will be restored and will be brought home. However, many of them seemed not to be moved by God’s invitation. People have become comfortable with their life while at exile. They were able to adjust and adopted to a new way of life. Thus, when God’s promise was fulfilled, they have become indifferent, not wanting to be moved by God anymore.
Thus, this invitation to come to God and be satisfied is also at the same time a challenge and an assurance to us who have become indifferent, complacent but remain anxious of what will happen tomorrow. This is God’s assurance also affirmed in today’s Psalm, “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.”
This is what we find in today’s Gospel. Jesus became aware of the needs of the people who followed him on foot. This moved the heart of Jesus with pity that prompted him to respond. Jesus cured the sick and also provided them with food for their empty stomach. This is the great miracle of the feeding of thousands of people. This became possible through the participation of people who were close to Jesus. This is where we discover how God gives us the opportunity to be part of the miracle.
However, we also see how the disciples expressed their anxiety over their food supply. There were more than five thousand people around and Jesus told them to feed the people themselves. All they had were five loaves and two fish, which might not be enough also for 13 adult men. The disciples must have felt that deep anxiety and confusion if they have to share the little that they had for the people. Surely, what they had in mind was, “these are not enough, so we better keep the food for ourselves.”
Yet, the miracle happened when those five loaves and two fish were brought generously to Jesus so that others may eat. We are invited by Jesus to offer sincerely the little that we have. We might be thinking that the world’s problem on hunger is too big for us to respond and our share will only be insignificant. But let us remember, the five loaves and two fish were actually insignificant compared to the thousands of people. However, the disciples did not hide the little that they had, but offered generously to the Lord.
This action tells us of our own vulnerability and weakness and at the same time the power behind a generous action. To give away the little that we have, makes us insecure, yet, it is actually through the little that we possess that the Lord can work wonderfully. When we give something and then we feel vulnerable, because that was all we have, no matter how small, is actually the fruit of our generosity. Remember, true generous people will always feel helpless because what they give to others is not something that is only an excess of their possession.
Jesus invites us to recognize him, that is, to recognize God, His love and friendship with us as our food that will satisfy our hunger. He is the bread that gives us life. This Eucharist is the gift and our food that should satisfy our deepest human hunger. That is why, this Eucharist is more than what we think. This is not simply prayers and readings, standing and kneeling, singing and saying amen. This Eucharist is our very relationship with God and with one another. This is all about us and God, you and me and Jesus.
And so, I would like to invite you then, so that we will be able to make this Eucharist truly life-giving.
First, ask the Lord to help us recognize our different hungers. Be mindful, then, of our compulsive actions, fixations and some forms of addictions because those behaviors in us will tell us of our own hungers and needs. When we become conscious of those, hopefully, it will lead us to seek to what will last, to what is more essential in our relationships and to what will truly satisfy us.
Second, be moved to open up and to become generous of ourselves to the needs and hungers of others. Remember, we too are being satisfied and become fulfilled when we ourselves become instruments of God’s action in satisfying and fulfilling the life of those in need. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR