18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
There are not much changes in the situation of humanity since the time of Jesus in terms of basic human needs. We might have experienced in our century the rapid development of technology, science, medicine and other disciplines yet we cling to some old habits and traditions that still continue to shape our ethos, value system and beliefs. One of these is the food that we eat. The food on our tables is part of our heritage which has been handed down to us from one generation to the next. Example: The few dishes that I am able to cook are actually the ones I learned from my mother and sisters which I observed in the kitchen since I was a little boy. Some families have recipes whose ingredients are only known to the members. There is so much history and stories hidden in the food on our plates which define our culture and tradition as a family, ethnic group and even as a country. Therefore food is not just about the nourishment of our bodies, it is also nourishment of our spirit. The Eucharist is such food to us!
God through the prophet Isaiah in the First Reading reminds us of the invitation to his banquet: "Come, receive grain and eat! Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk." As the food is our binding force with one another, the food offered by God is the one that binds us with each other and with God: "Who can separate us from the love of God? "..... no other creature can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ Our Lord."
There is so much imbalance in the distribution of world's resources today because although there is plenty for everybody's need but there is not much for everybody's greed. Everyday hundreds of thousands of peoples are dying because of hunger yet at the same time hundreds and thousands also are living in excessive luxuries. The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is confronting this rather extreme situation and challenges us and the world as it unfolds its radical meaning in the present time.
1) From Story to Memorial. What a privilege that our personal stories, insignificant they may be, give colour and meaning to the Gospel that we just proclaimed because our lives are grafted into the story of God and his people. That is why all that happened to us have been recorded in the memory of God and at the same time have become part of the history of God's people. When Jesus said, "Do this in memorial of me" he commands that the Eucharist should perpetuate every fibre of human history and that we as his disciples re-live that salvific event as active participants.
2) From Selfishness to Solidarity. Yes we are busy with our personal concerns, chasing dreams, building careers, securing our future but let's us not forget that we are part of a larger story which embraces the dreams, aspirations, hopes, anguish and pains of other people in the past, in the present and in the future. We may not have the capacity to effect change in the bigger spectrum of society but if we are able to make a difference in the life of just one person then we have changed the whole world for the better.
3) From Communion to Mission. It is not enough to be aware of the needs of others without doing anything about it. After feeding their souls through his teaching, Jesus was aware of their physical need so he asked his disciples to give them food which became a problematic for them. The solution was rather a paradox: poverty that enriches! This is the lesson of the multiplication of the loaves: if we are able to share to others who have less in life in spite of our scarcity, the miracle of the loaves and fish continue to explode in our world that knows only to hoard for selfish securities. When people learn to share their resources everybody experiences abundance as seen in the twelve baskets of leftovers.
When we are able to live out these eucharistic challenges, then we become part of the miracle... we become truly the Eucharist we celebrate!