August 2, 2020 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Reading 1 IS 55:1-3

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
Come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread;
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.

Responsorial Psalm    PS 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18

R. (cf. 16) The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,    
    slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
    and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
    and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
    and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
The LORD is just in all his ways
    and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
    to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

Reading 2     ROM 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? 
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? 
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia    Mt 4:4b

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel    Mt 14:13-21

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.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me,”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.   

Homily for Nativity on the Eighteenth Sunday Ordinary Time 8/2/2020

IS 55:1-3; PS 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18; ROM 8:35, 37-39; MT 14:13-21

My parents own businesses in Toledo and Dad just put in solar panels at their house and at their business.  He figures the one will pay for itself in five years, the other will pay for itself in six and a half, then they will be completely self-sufficient, but either way, with a 25 year warranty on the solar panels, seems like a very good investment.

And you know how once you do something new, all of a sudden, you notice that same thing all the time?  Like now when I am driving around Dubuque, I see solar panels all over the place, and I have seemingly never noticed them before.  Lots of them, on roofs, in fields, on random poles, I see them all of the time now.

But what is so interesting is that our one sun can power all of these solar panels, all over Dubuque, all over Iowa, all over the world, and not run out of energy.  Isn’t that amazing?  Well, okay, it might run out in five billion years or so but we won’t be around to see it!

I was thinking about that when reading this Gospel, how Jesus, the son of God, is kind of like the sun, where His energy is not exhausted, He can reach billions of people with His energy, His love, and still have room for more.

A funny story, we’ve been having Eucharistic Adoration here (at Nativity) a lot more than usual these last few weeks, and someone told me they were coming to one but they hoped that nobody else would come, so God would only hear their prayers!  

They were worried that if so many people were there that God wouldn’t be able to hear everyone speaking to Him at once. Incidentally, there were 100 people there last Wednesday! Socially distanced of course...

The problem is that we think like humans.  I mean, that's kind of obvious that we think like humans, but if we are in a group, and one person asks me a question, and another person asks me a question simultaneously, I can usually answer them both, but if three people ask, forget about it, I have to stop everyone.

So then we project our humanness onto God, we put that into God’s terms and say, how can God hear everyone’s prayers at the same time?  We can’t hear three people talking to us, how can He hear a Church full, let alone a whole World full???

Listen, God is not like us, even though we try to put Him in our terms and rationalize Him like we do, He just isn’t like us.  God exists outside of space and time, He didn’t just create the world and all that is in it, He created the time that it exists in as well.  

So He can take millions or billions of prayer requests at the same exact “time” and handle them all, without a problem.

Now we think about today’s Gospel, it says there were “five thousand men, not counting women and children” so we are probably talking ten to twenty thousand people that Jesus fed with five loaves and two fish.

Because we tend to think in human terms, we have a tendency to doubt this as a miracle, we tend to rationalize it away, like, everyone brought food with them, or many people brought food with them and shared it with those that had none.

Our human minds try to do that, but why do we try to minimize the power of God?  Why do we try to minimize the power of the Son?  We believe He has the power to do some things, but, others we say, that’s too far...

Have you ever heard of Occam’s Razor?  Occam's Razor is a theory that says, “the simplest explanation is most likely the right one” - the simplest explanation here is that Jesus multiplied the fishes and the loaves just like He said.

He had turned water into wine, He had walked on water, He had raised people from the dead, in this Gospel He cured their sick, why couldn’t He multiply bread and fish, enough to feed twenty thousand.  The Son has seemingly limitless energy, proving time and again He has power over His own creation.

People, this is a miracle, I don’t want to leave you with any doubt, there is no human explanation, the Son can love us all at the same time and feed us with the food we need, I know this to be true.  The only sharing that was happening was God sharing His love for the people in the form of food.

Furthermore, this story was recorded in all four Gospels.  If it wasn’t a miracle, or if it wasn’t important, all four would not have wasted the precious paper and ink, and it was precious in that day, they just wouldn’t have wasted it.

But the miracle of the multiplication here is only the setup… The setup for the bigger miracle that would happen later.

Did any of you notice the verbs that were used here? “Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples,

Took, blessed, broke, gave… these four verbs describe what Jesus does with the bread that becomes his body during the last supper, and the same ones that I and every priest still use today just before we pray the prayer of consecration.  

So this miracle was being used to prepare the people then, and even to prepare us now, to believe in the most amazing miracle that happens every day in every Catholic Church in the whole world, the Son is made present truly, substantially, body, blood, soul and divinity. 

We believe that, and we need that, just as we need energy from the sun, we need the nourishment from the Son of God.  This is the way that He promised to be with us, on the night of the Last Supper, He said this is my body, this is my blood, do this in memory of me.

And we do, every day, mostly because He backed it up with another miracle, He suffered, died, and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins.  And lest we try to humanize God further, He can forgive us of any sin - just like no miracle is impossible, no sin is unforgivable.

So to remember these great miracles, we are asked to come and celebrate this most amazing miracle, commemorated as we were told to do on the night of the Last Supper. 

And just as the disciples had leftovers collected in twelve wicker baskets, we always have leftovers too, and we keep them in the tabernacle for people to come and spend time with Jesus, physically, in His presence.  

Of course we can always be with Him spiritually, but physically is better, and if we have realized anything over these last few months, being on the phone with someone you love is no substitute for being with them in person, right? 

It is an amazingly beautiful gift that we have, the ability to be with Jesus physically, so I encourage you to go into an unlocked church, or go to Eucharistic Adoration, and spend time with Jesus.  

It doesn’t even have to be a whole hour, but we can’t go through our lives saying, “oh, being with Jesus in prayer is boring” and just expect Him to welcome us into Heaven - that’s what Heaven is, being with Jesus - we need to start to spend that time in relationship now on earth - spend quality time with the One you love.

God is God and can perform amazing miracles, let’s not try to humanize Him or take that away from Him, rather, let’s turn to Him in faith and trust, believing He loves us and is answering our prayers and is with us today and every day, physically in the tabernacle, and soon to be made present again on the Altar of His love.