The Lord’s Compassion

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.
(Matthew 15:32)

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)

Reflection

In today’s first reading of the liturgy, the prophet Isaiah prophesied a day in the life of our Lord Jesus, thus: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples… He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; (by healing) He will remove His people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isa 25:6a,8-10) Thus, Luke’s Gospel says, “they glorified the God of Israel.”

The number ‘7’ in this Gospel account recalls the seven years of plenty during the time of Joseph when he was made head minister by Pharaoh in Egypt (Gen.41:47-49). It also brings to mind 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). Jesus 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 that He was 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.

Jesus 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.” He not only gave the people what they came for (healing), but even took care of what they did not seek (sustenance) because of His great compassion. God has always provided generously to all His children in need. It should come as no surprise then that when people prayed to our Lord to spare Mindanao from the “super typhoon” Pablo (which was claimed to be stronger than Sendong), the damage and lives lost were very minimal, and in fact the turbulence was gone sooner than we had expected.

Lead us always to Your holy mountain, that we may be far from the valleys of sin; there to partake of the Bread of Life, Your Beloved Son, Who will bring us to Your kingdom. Amen.

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