2014-08-03, 18th A, Nourished with Joy

Homily 08-03-14
Eighteenth Sunday Ordinary Time, A
Is 55:1-3; Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21

 (Scriptures included after homily)

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Extremely Heavy, and yet, as Light as a feather.

If we think too hard about what’s been said in today’s Scriptures, it could easily drive us crazy.  But Isaiah, Paul and Matthew were not writing to philosophers and geniuses, they were writing to common, every-day people, just like us.

Some of us may be good at math; where the 5-loaves and the 2-fish, the 12-baskets and the 5000-men, really could intrigue us.

Others might be more into logistics, wondering how the crowd followed Jesus all the way around that sea, and why Jesus couldn’t find a place to rest, without going out in a boat?  Whereas if we realized that Galilee was only about the size of Rhode Island, and yet it was 3-times more highly populated than Rhode Island is, even today; and with the Sea of Galilee being only 8-miles across at its widest, we can easily visualize how it would have been pretty hard to find a quiet place anywhere.

And then there are those of us who lean toward the psychological and the romantic sides of life.  For us, we can see the true human nature of Jesus in the Gospels.  We can see how He grieved over the horrible death of His cousin, John; how he was moved with compassion for the sick and the hungry masses.

And, of course, always the teacher, Jesus had a Message in everything He said and did.  Which then leads us into – philosophy.

You see, part of being Human,
is learning – how to deal with all
the Stresses in life.

 And their numbers seem to be endless.  If we were to count all of the things that make us sad, versus those that bring us joy, which would win?  You see, if the answer is not “the joy,” then it’s precisely us, who the Prophet Isaiah, St. John and Jesus are speaking directly TO today.

WE are the thirsty, the poor, and the hungry Israelites, who Isaiah reminds, that there is NO cost for God’s nourishment, nor for God’s Joy, except to come and to receive it with an open heart.

WE are the crowds, who are willing to walk around a sea, so that we could catch, just a glimpse, of a Permanent Joy.  A Joy that cannot be found on a TV or a smart phone, in a restaurant or on a football field, because we know that – THIS Joy is Greater than ALL of those.  And we know that it’s right there within us, without touching, without seeing, without hearing, or even tasting – It’s there!

WE are the hungry masses who are fed by the very essence of Love itself: by Jesus Christ, who is present with us in Word and in Body, in Spirit and in Soul.

And it’s just knowing, that IF absolutely nothing can separate us from His Love, then through His Love, we are given the strength to overcome ALL the stresses that Life can throw at us.

And there IS,
No Greater Joy!

St. Paul, today, lists all seven of those Life stresses.

To the stress of ANGUISH, where we might ask, “How can I deal with those awful issues that come up at work, or at home, or even in my own body?”

 . . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!”
and He offers us PEACE.

To DISTRESS, where we might ask, “What is this embattled world coming to?” or “Why did death have to come to my beloved?”

 . . . we say “Come Lord Jesus!”
and He brings us COMFORT.

To the stress of PERSECUTION, where we might ask, “Why is everyone always picking on me?”

. . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!
and He gives us COURAGE.

To FAMINE, where we might ask, “How can I possibly feed my family without a job?”

. . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!
and He shows us KNOWLEDGE.

To stress of NAKEDNESS, where we ask, “How can I protect my children from the nastiness of the media?”

. . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!
and He gives us WISDOM.

To the stress of PERIL, where we might ask ourselves, “Am I in constant fear of robbery, rape, harassment or abuse?”

. . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!
and He endows us with STRENGTH.

And even to the extreme of the SWORD, where we might ask, “Am I petrified by the prospect of death?”

. . . we say, “Come Lord Jesus!
and we are Blessed with the
Hope of ETERNAL LIFE
and the banquet of the Heavenly Kingdom.

You see brothers and sisters in Christ, one-on-one, the Joy of Jesus always conquers stress.  And on top of it all, we have also been Graced with the Joy of the Senses: from the fun of a smart phone, to the excitement of a baseball game; from the beauty of nature, to the joy of a great meal;

. . . from the heavy complexity of a Scripture reading,
to the feather light feeling of God’s all-embracing Love . . .
JOY Always Wins!

It’s always with us.

It’s always in us.

And it’s Multiplied for us, a million-fold over, just like the 5-loaves and the 2-fish, just like the seed in the rich soil, just like the yeast in the dough, and just like the mustard seed.

It is multiplied for us, every time we open our hearts and Share that Joy with others!

jmp 08-03-14
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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 08-03-14
The Eighteenth
Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

First ReadingIs 55:1-3

Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!  Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?  Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.  Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

Responsorial Psalm; Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18

R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
R.
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.
R.
The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.
R.

Second Reading:  Rom 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ?  Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

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.

Gospel: Mt 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.  The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.  When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”  Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”  But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”

Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full.  Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

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