WEDNESDAY HOMILY – 1ST WEEK OF ADVENT YEAR B
THEME: Miracles All Around Us
Gospel – Matthew 15:29-37
Mass at Bethlehem
I admit it – Ginger and I are FOODIES!! We watch more than our share of food and cooking shows, Master Chef, Chopped, you name it! And from time to time, we have been lucky enough to dine at some pretty incredible TOP CHEF restaurants, places where you want to take out your phone and take pics of the food before you even eat it. Those were amazing, memorable meals.
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But sometimes you don’t have to go out for a great meal and great food. Sometimes it happens at home when we work together to prepare a meal, where, in the midst of chopping veggies and trimming the meat, we also share memories and laughter. And sometimes it’s just a simple breakfast in a picnic basket shared on the beach as we watch the sun rise.
Wonderful memories! But truth be told, it was never just about the food or sharing a meal; it was the side by side preparing of the meal, the conversation, the laughter, the remembering and the sharing of our hearts. It was the combination of the words and the food, not just one or the other.
But, let’s face it, some meals are memorable for all the wrong reasons. Going out for a work-related dinner and presentation – the words were forgettable and the meal was one of the rubber chicken experiences. Or maybe it was that new recipe we wanted to try and the result was completely ‘disposable’.
We hear about another meal in today’s Gospel, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The crowd has been following and listening to Jesus all day, in the heat and the dust. And it’s only in the evening that the disciples tell Jesus – we are far away from any town and the crowd is hungry –5000 people, not even including women and children, what should we do? All we have is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. And then the miracle happens.
Most homilies I’ve heard focus on the food and use it as a symbol of Jesus feeding us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. In fact, this is the Gospel that is proclaimed on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood! Some homilies focus on the miracle itself – the physical multiplication of the loaves and fishes to feed the crowd.
But I want to focus on something else!
What if – what if there is more than the one miracle taking place here?
What if there are more miracles going on than just the one we can see and touch and taste?
What if the real miracle happened not so much in front of our eyes but deep inside our hearts?
What if that crowd just wanted to give Jesus a quick listen, to hear this new preacher, and then go on with their day?
What if His words touched them deep in their hearts, so much so that they lost track of time and ended up staying the entire day, listening to His words of love and compassion? That would be a miracle!
What if they were carrying some food along with them but had no intention of sharing, especially with strangers?
What if Jesus’ words touched them so deeply that the real miracle was a change of heart?
What if, touched by His words, the crowd changed, on the inside, in their hearts and in their souls! Changed so much that selfishness and greed and fear transformed into love of neighbor and sharing what food they had with those less fortunate?
Think about it – the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the filling of their bellies, the satisfying of their physical hunger – that lasted just one day. But the other miracle – the filling of their hearts with the Word of God, the promise of eternal life – that’s a miracle that changes not only their physical selves but their soul and that will last for a lifetime!
That crowd gathered for a talk! In the process, they shared a meal! In the process, they experienced a change of heart, an awakening of faith, a conversion.
Every time we gather for the Eucharist, we gather first to hear the Word of God – proclaimed and preached! And then we share a meal – not simple bread but the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ! Are we changed? Is our faith awakened and refreshed? Do we experience a change deep inside our soul, a conversion of spirit and of direction in life?
Every day God calls to us, reaches out to us, offers us words of comfort and hope, offers us food for the soul, food for our spiritual journey.
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