Carry the Word with you
First reading of the day:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!” For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.
Gospel reading of the day:
At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.
Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
Reflection on the readings: In an age where food was scarce and physical hunger was pervasive, the image of God preparing a feast must have fired the imaginations of believers. In the western world, we have developed such effective strategies to address hunger in much of the population that obesity, and not starvation, threatens the health of large numbers of people. We take great satisfaction in the successes of our age. But while we may keep our teeth past 40, there are things that people in ancient times knew better than we. They knew what was important; they knew how to live their lives. A tremendous spiritual hunger afflicts the modern world; in a sense, hunger is as pervasive for us as it was for the world in biblical times. Many of us believe in nothing at all. Many others of us have utterly rejected our spiritual heritage and follow eclectic paths to God. I esteem those paths as real and effective impulses toward the divine and credit them for encouraging access to the life of God. But pursuing those paths while rejecting the feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines that God gave the world in Jesus is to let go of the surest path and the greatest fail safe. For after everything we do to find God falls short, Jesus makes sure we have what we lack in the deserted place through which we wander.