Matthew 15: 29-37
Is 25: 6-10a / Ps 23: 1-6
I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.
Lord, You provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wine;
You multiply Your disciples
As we partake Your Bread divine.
And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And He went up on the mountain, and sat down there. And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to Him, “Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. (Matthew 15: 29-37)
God has always provided generously to all His children in need. The number ‘7’ in this Gospel account recalls the 7 years of plenty during the time of Joseph when he was made governor by the pharaoh of Egypt (Gen.42:6). It also reminds us of the daily provisions of manna from heaven (7 days a week) that sustained the Israelites for 40 years in their exodus to the Promised land (Ex.16:4-5, 35). These patriarchs in the Old Testament were precursors of Jesus, and instruments of God’s bounty and generosity to His Chosen People.
Jesus showed His compassion to the multitudes not only by healing them of all infirmities, but by giving them food more than they could eat. He referred to Himself as the Bread of Life Who came down from heaven (Jn.6:35). In this miracle of the multiplication of bread, He wanted to emphasize to all who would listen (and read) that He is the vital link between the Old Testament, when manna from heaven saved the Israelites in the desert, and the Church today, where millions of Christians receive Him daily and are saved by His Holy Eucharist. In the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy of “this mountain” points to our Church, where “the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,” (the Holy Eucharist). “In that day they will say, “This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation. The hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain” (Isa.25:9-10)
We are witnessing today God’s bounty and mercy in the compassion and generosity shown by many people (donors and volunteer workers) in the aftermath of the super typhoon that devastated many parts of our country. Cash donations and relief goods have been pouring into Red Cross centers, parishes, civic organizations and schools from all over the country and from many countries to help the survivors get back on their feet again, and rebuild their homes and communities. Many companies have decided to forgo their Christmas parties, and instead donate the money to the typhoon victims now housed in various make-shift communities and evacuation centers. Even students are doing their share, buying clothes and toys to be given as Christmas gifts to the children traumatized by their experience of death and destruction. Truly, it is our generosity and compassion that makes this season of Advent meaningful.
You have led us to Your holy mountain, Lord, that we may be far from the valleys of sin; may we share Your goodness and bounty to those most in need, especially the victims of natural calamities during this season of Advent. Amen.