EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY A: HOMILY by Fr. Matthias Lusembo

THEME: “GIVE THEM SOME FOOD YOURSELVES” (Mt 14:16)

Objective: That as Christ feeds us, we may also feed others.

It is evening and Jesus is in a deserted place with his disciples and crowds of five thousand men, not counting women and children. These people are already tired, hungry and thirsty. Many of them have just been cured by Jesus. If one sends them home, they might collapse on the way. Nevertheless, the disciples who have just five loaves of bread and two fish for themselves request Jesus to send the crowds to the villages to buy themselves some food. Jesus answers them: “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” (Mt 14:16). Jesus is lucky that he is talking to men of faith, otherwise they would not take him seriously. They trust him and carry out his orders. Jesus himself trusts his Father, prays to him and multiplies the bread and fish and satisfies everybody.

What do we learn from this miracle? The miracle shows that the prophecy of Isaiah to the Jews in Babylon (55:1-3), as we heard in the first reading, has come true. People who have no money have had their hunger satisfied. Jesus is the compassionate Messiah, who, not only heals the physically and spiritually sick, but also satisfies physical and spiritual hunger. As Saint Paul has said (Rom 8:35), not even hunger separates people from Christ. If people stick to him they get satisfied.

We also see the trust that Jesus has in his Father; that if he prays to him, bread and fish can be multiplied to satisfy crowds.

The first attitude of the disciples reminds us of the human tendency of avoiding responsibilities towards fellow human beings. Many people still have a selfish accumulation of resources, fattening accounts when other people are starving, or failing to pay tuition fees, house or power bills. Many people are prone to say: “I made it, let them also make it.”

Accumulation of resources depends very much on one’s location history, education, intelligence, wisdom, health, industriousness and one’s opportunities. But from where do all these come? Many of these, like intelligence and family background, come directly from God. Who of us chose to be intelligent or non-intelligent?

Who of us decided to be born in a poor or rich family? Who of us selected to be born in this country and not in another one? God distributed his resources differently so that we may need each other and show generosity to one another.

Other facilities come from our history or background. For example, in one of the museums in Richmond it is written that by 1930, U.S.A. had two categories of citizens: One category had to receive, by law, 7 U.S. Dollars from the government and the other category 2 U.S. Dollars for education per child. None of us here is to blame for this injustice, but it determined the quality of education and employment opportunities for each category. Some people were not allowed to have businesses of their, because they had to work for the rich. So some people may be failing in life, because of past injustices. In any case it is our Christian duty to see to it that no child of God lacks necessities of life.

The multiplication of loaves of bread and fish symbolizes the multiplication of Christ’s body and blood for our salvation. He gives not only what he has but also himself.

As we receive him in the holy Eucharist, let us remember that he is challenging us to give as much as we can to eradicate poverty and hunger from the world. We should give, not only food, like in the food pantry, but also money, justice, time, medical care, energy, education, tuition fees and other goods. Let us give what we can and God will multiply it to satisfy everybody.