August 2: Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. Isaiah 55:1-3; Psalm: 145; 2. Romans 8:35,37-39; Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21.
Through words such as food and love, today’s readings teach us what it means to be supported by a caring God.
Isaiah’s verses issue a joyous invitation to come and share in the banquet God has prepared for us. To eat and drink at the Lord’s table, without having to pay a cent, is a marvelous thought. But it is also one that acts as a reminder. It readily recalls that, no matter what happens in life, God has promised us whatever we need, in order to live for him and be witnesses to the Good News announced by Isaiah. This thought is endorsed by verse three. For there, it is clear that the prophet’s words have been prompted by divine love.
The message Paul utters in the verses from Romans finds its meaning in the pairing of Christ’s love with God’s love. His striking choice of language emphatically makes the point that this is a love that protects, assuring us that divine assistance will see us through everything.
The great crowd that follows Matthew’s Jesus into the wilderness is, at day’s end, a moment of opportunity to reveal something further about himself. With only five loaves and two fish to hand, Jesus invites everyone to receive a share. That five thousand plus have their fill from so little is a spectacular show of miraculous power. And it is also a fine illustration of Jesus’ compassionate love, experienced in a very practical way. The food made available is therefore an immediate sign that Jesus is the incarnate presence of the Father’s enduring concern for his people.
In these biblical texts, we see displayed before us the bounteous way in which the God of Israel and the Son of God jointly make the journey of faith a blessed and fulfilling life experience.