Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 2
We Long for Spiritual Satisfaction Knowing that Our God, Who Loves Us Beyond All Description, Only Wishes to Feed Us with the Best of All Nourishment – Himself.
“What will separate us from the love of Christ?”
Saint Paul directs this question to each of us today, a question which prompts us to think about our relationship with Jesus Christ, a question which prompts each of us to look deep within ourselves, to look at our own humanity, to look at our own weaknesses, our own hunger for a nourishment which feeds more than just the physical needs of our body.
In a small community in South Jersey, only a few miles from where I live, there once was a bakery which created only rolls and loaves of bread. If you get there at the right time of the day, generally early afternoon, as soon as you would open the front door to this bakery, the aroma of freshly baked bread fills the senses to such an extent, that you think you were gaining weight just by smelling the richness of the air which surrounds and permeates every cell of your body!
It was an aroma so delectable, that you couldn’t resist buying some of the freshly baked bread or rolls. It was the anticipation of eating this freshly baked, warm bread which gave you a feeling of pleasure and a longing for satisfaction in its consumption. And, yet, this satisfaction was temporary, for it only fed the needs of the body.
How much more, then, does our soul need the same sort of satisfaction in its nourishment, not with a bread which feeds and satisfies our physical needs for but a few moments in time, but with a bread which nourishes and sustains the human spirit, the human soul for all eternity?
Today, we can find a common thread which weaves itself throughout all our Readings. This common thread is God’s desire to feed His children with food which nourishes eternally!
In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, God is extending an invitation to His children, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! …Come, without paying and without cost…Heed me, and you shall eat well…listen, that you may have life.”
“…Heed me, and you shall eat well…listen, that you may have life” – a request and an invitation which gives us hope, which fills our hearts with a longing for something far beyond anything which this life can offer, an offering freely extended to God’s children!
Even our psalmist, in today’s Responsorial, feels this same longing, this same inner desire with the words, “The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
And what is our desire, not only for Catholic Christians, but also for anyone of any religious faith background whose hearts are open and receptive to God’s Grace?
We long for a spiritual satisfaction which gives us an inner peace, a joy, a happiness, a sense of fulfillment in knowing that the God who created us, the God who redeemed us, the God who continuously enlightens and sanctifies us, is the God who loves us beyond all human measure of understanding, the God who wishes to only feed us with the best of all nourishment – the Bread of angels, the very sustenance which gives eternal life – God Himself, through His Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist!
It is this Eucharistic Presence of the Risen Christ Himself, true Body and Blood, true Soul and Divinity, which we take and eat and drink – His true Body and Blood, broken and poured out for us as a gift of His Eternal Love for both you and me.
Again, I repeat the question of Saint Paul in our Second Reading, “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” For people of faith, for God’s children who long to be fed, to be nourished with God’s Loving Presence, especially for those who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the answer is, “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!”
And, as Saint Paul tells us, for his words have so much bearing on our relationship and belief in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus Christ, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In our Gospel Reading for today, we see Jesus moved with compassion for His children – like sheep without a shepherd, longing to be cared for, longing to be nourished with words of Truth which give life, which give hope – words which fill the heart with a sustenance the likes of which they had never experienced before.
It is in this nourishment where we remember the words of Simon Peter, in response to a question from our Lord, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
When we look around and witness all that is taking place in our world today, we sometimes wonder if the gift of faith, freely given by God, is a gift which is being more and more rejected. And, yet, when we look to the youth in our Church who attend the World Youth Day events, it is as if the youth of the world are opening themselves more and more to the Holy Spirit – as if a new Pentecost had come upon the Church and revitalized it!
And the enthusiasm we find in the hearts of these youthful and faithful men and women, who attend these great events, is as a new springtime for the Church, a new blossoming of faith, nourished and fed by both the Word of God and the Eucharist!
They hunger, just as the more than five thousand hungered in today’s Gospel. Scripture tells us that “…his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” Jesus’ compassion for the “lost sheep of Israel” showed the depths of God’s love and concern for all who are truly needy. Jesus gave the people nourishment through the Word of God, and He healed them physically as well as spiritually.
And then we are given an account of the only miracle which appears in all four Gospels, the feeding of “…about five thousand people, not counting women and children” with only five loaves of bread and two fish.
And here we can see and believe in God’s Fatherly Love and concern for His children, especially when we remember our Lord’s words given to us in an earlier chapter, “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?”
And Jesus feeds the five thousand; but, in the feeding, He gives us words which are not only a traditional Jewish blessing, but words which can also be seen as a foreshadowing of that ultimate of all blessings at the Last Supper, for we read today, “…looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples…”
Even though the aroma and the freshly baked bread from that bakery I had previously mentioned may only satisfy the stomach, the heart and the soul yearns for so much more. The body and the stomach are temporal; the soul is eternal.
And with a deep and abiding faith, it is His Real Presence, His very Flesh and Blood which can satisfy the greatest longings, the deepest hunger we could ever possibly experience!
“What will separate us from the love of Christ?”
It is the Eucharist with which we are fed; it is God’s immeasurable Love for His children, which unites each of us with the Risen Christ in a very special, in a very unique way – for we become one with Him, and He becomes one with us each time we worthily approach His Altar of Sacrifice.
Lord Jesus, You satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, and You feed us with the finest of wheat. May we always be filled with gratitude for Your blessings, as You nourish our minds, our hearts and our souls with both Your Word and Your True Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist.
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35a)
- “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! …Come, without paying and without cost…Heed me, and you shall eat well…listen, that you may have life.” (Isaiah 55:1ab, 2c, 3b)
- “The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15-16)
- “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
- “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” (John 6:68)
- “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
- “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
- “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:35)
- “[The LORD] satisfies you with the finest wheat.” (Psalm 147:14b)
Prayer for the Day
“Jesus, my Lord and my Savior, I confess that I am a sinner. But in Your goodness, You invite me to approach Your Holy Table and to partake of Your Heavenly Banquet.
“Trusting in Your Mercy,
I come to You with confidence, albeit with it a contrite and humble heart. Come to me, Lord Jesus, and keep me in Your Love.
“Lord, I am not worthy
that You should enter under my roof.
Say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.
“Help me to recognize You
in the Consecrated bread and wine.
Feed me with Your Most Precious Body and Blood; nourish and strengthen me in my life of faith.
“Help me with Your grace to live a virtuous life,Anonymous
fulfilling all that You have asked of me.
For it is only in You, Jesus, where I find my true faith;
it is only in You where I find my eternal salvation.”