Fr Alec's reflections on the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last week we heard about the feeding of the 5000. Jesus took five loaves and blessed them and broke them and gave them, with the result that thousands of people were fed....And I find myself wondering about them.
watch the video: Fr Alec's reflection on the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Read the text:
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Let us pray.
Almighty ever-living God,
whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit
to enter into the inheritance which you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (14:22-33)
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Last week we heard about the feeding of the 5000. Jesus took five loaves and blessed them and broke them and gave them, with the result that thousands of people were fed. Today’s gospel reading picks up from there, and it notes that Jesus “dismissed the crowds.” They didn’t just leave. Jesus formally dismissed them. He sent them on their way. We’re told that “he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.” But we’re not told what happened to all those people who had participated in the miracle, the thousands who had been fed. And I find myself wondering about them.
Did anything change for those people? In the version of this story in John’s Gospel, the only thing that seems to have changed is that they got hungry again and came back for more. Jesus tells them: “you are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were fed. That is to say: “I was trying to feed you spiritually, too, but that part evidently didn’t sink in.” Now I made the claim last week that we’re fed spiritually during each mass, from the Table of God’s Word and the Table of the Eucharist. But feeding is not just for its own sake.
During our daily lunch hour, we eat food and we’re nourished and we’re strengthened and that sustains us until our next meal. The nourishment makes it possible for us to get up when it’s over and do what we need to do. Whether we need to be taking care of other people, or doing some other kind of work, or chores at home, or whatever. The meal makes that possible. And the eucharistic meal—the celebration of the mass— makes it possible for us to do what God would have us do. It nourishes us and strengthens us for the Christian life.
What is it that God would have you do today? Is there somebody he wants you reach out to and encourage? The eucharistic meal can sustain you spiritually to do that, even when the other person’s needs can seem to be too much for you. Is there somebody God wants you to stand up to and challenge? Here is the sustenance to persevere through those difficult conversations. Being fed spiritually can help us to seek reconciliation with others—to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.
The thing is, we won’t necessarily feel different when we’re leaving mass. We won’t necessarily feel empowered to do the next right thing. But we are. We are empowered. We are built up. What happens during this hour does change us spiritually enough so that we can do what God calls us to do. We can’t rely on feeling different. Our faith tells us that the celebration of the eucharist enables us to live out our vocations one day at a time. Being fed spiritually each week gives us what we need to live as God calls us to that week. Lunch keeps us going for an afternoon. Being fed at the Table of the Word and the Table of the Eucharist has longer-lasting effects, even if we don’t notice them.
Lots of people continue to watch mass at home and to make a spiritual communion when they do. God is at work then, too, providing for us and sustaining us. ‘TV mass’ has helped countless people who couldn’t come to church—people in private homes, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons. We gather together in whatever way is possible for us, whether in person or virtually. While we cannot all be together, we trust that our participation in mass feeds us spiritually and empowers us to do what God would have us do.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R./ Amen