2 August 2020 Homily by Bishop Noel Treanor for 18th Sunday (Ord Time)
I Give them something to eat yourselves (Mt.14.16)
We continue reading and listening on the Sundays of this year to the gospel according to St Matthew., patron of your parish.
Last Sunday we finished reading chapter thirteen with its parables of the kingdom of God.
This Sunday we head into chapter fourteen and follow the impact Jesus had as one who offered a new vision of God and an approach to life which gave priority to responding to the needs of people.
Over the next few Sundays we shall follow St Matthew’s presentation of Jesus and in three weeks we shall arrive at the famous moment of Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi – “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16.14).
The lines we have read and heard from St Matthew at this Mass open our minds’ eyes to the core of what the life of Christ reveals about God.
And that is the boundless love of God for each one of us, no matter what our story. Curiously, this heart of Christian faith has not always been to the fore of preaching.
II “Come to the water all you who are thirsty” (Is 55.1)
I am sure you noticed the inviting and warm language of the first reading, the lines from the prophet Isaiah : “Oh, come to the waters all you who are thirsty, though you have no money, come!”
This mirrors the scene in the gospel text : Jesus is portrayed as one who makes the people sit down, be together and eat the food that he has multiplied. The miracle scene, with the twelve baskets remaining, one for each of the tribes of Israel, heralds God’s care for humanity.
And that impulse of divine care is set against the contrasting natural initial human reaction of the disciples to send the people away. Once again, the love of God is portrayed as surpassing human expectation, calculation and insight.
And we are the recipients of that boundless love and mercy, as St Paul reminds us in the second reading.
III “Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ” (Rom 8.35)
The second reading, words from the lips of St Paul, has carried a powerful message over the centuries.
Somehow, though, it slips our attention.
Just think of what St Paul is saying : “nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked ….. neither death, nor life … nothing that exists, nor any created thing can come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus Our Lord” (Rom 8.35; 38-9)
This is the language and insight of promise.
And from St Paul, one-time-opponent and persecutor of the followers of Christ become herald of the gospel, it is the language rooted in his personal experience of discovering a new life and new vision of life by virtue of his discovery of Christ.
So, my dear friends, this Sunday the Word of God invites us, Christians and followers of Christ
- to share a sense and image of God that speaks first and foremost of God’s boundless love
- to remember that no matter what happens to us in life, no matter what engulfs or catches up on us, we remain loved by God
- to pursue our calling as parish, as Christian community, as the body of Christ, the people of God is always do its best to support the struggling and needy
- and to support each other in doing this, as the Apostles supported Peter, one-time denier, and incorporated St Paul, one-time persecutor.