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.
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
My inner-city parish sponsors a soup kitchen, and the time I spend there is always a holy time. It’s holy because of the presence of Christ in both our guests who come for meals and in the volunteers and staff who serve them. The fact that this ministry revolves around food recalls for me the scene in today’s Gospel.
There, Jesus feeds a large crowd in a deserted place. When Matthew’s community heard this story, what connections would they have made? Perhaps they recalled the Hebrew Scriptures, where God fed the people of Israel in the desert. Perhaps those early Christians thought of their own situation, and of their obligation to feed those in need. And surely they imagined the heavenly banquet at the end of time.
But I suspect this story also reminded them of their Sunday Eucharist. The language Matthew uses to describe what Jesus does—blessing, breaking and giving bread—recalls a similar description of the actions of Christ at the Last Supper.
For me and for my parishioners all those connections are present in our soup kitchen ministry: our link with our Scriptural tradition, our hope for the banquet feast of heaven, and especially the Eucharist. Our Sunday Mass nourishes us, prepares us, obliges us even, to feed the hungry who wander in our urban desert, seeking nourishment and healing.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• In the first reading (Is 55:1-3), Isaiah invites all who are thirsty “to come to the water.” What is Isaiah talking about? What “thirst” is Isaiah talking about here? (see Is 55:3)
• According to the second reading (Rom 8:34, 37-39), why is St. Paul confident that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ? Paul mentions things that he had suffered. What are those things?
• The Gospel tells us that when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew to a deserted place to pray. But the crowds found him. Jesus pitied them. So, what did he do? Late in the day, what did Jesus tell the disciples to do? How many people were fed by the five loaves and two fishes that Jesus multiplied?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• Because we can’t currently gather together with family and friends for a meal, why not do the next best thing? Make a meal or some treats and deliver them to a family member or friend. Or, have an online dinner party. Connect via the Internet and virtually eat together.
• Jesus went off to spend time alone. In that spirit, find somewhere quiet to take some time for yourself to just sit and think or pray. You might try to do some journaling.