(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)
3 August 2014
(Readings: Is 55:1-3; Ps 144; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21)
A story is told about four men who were adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat, near the equator. There were so thirsty that they were trying to squeeze moisture from the pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When rescuers finally arrived, the men were very weak from dehydration. After gradually reviving them, the rescuers informed the men of an incredible irony: All the while they were fighting for a few drops of moisture to drink, they had actually been floating on drinkable water! And that’s because they were near the Amazon River – a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean. The men could have reached down and drank the water that was all around them.
In many ways that story is a parable for many people in our world today – people who are thirsty, but unaware of a readily accessible source of fresh water. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Sydney for World Youth Day, he said in his homily at the final Sunday Mass: In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning…?
So, what is the source of fresh water, living water? The Pope answers the question in a single word: JESUS. Only with Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit will we find the goodness, beauty and truth that we desire. Only he can give love that endures, and real freedom.
What’s more, what Jesus offers us costs us nothing! Come, though you have no money, come! cries out the prophet Isaiah. St Paul says NOTHING can come between us and the love of Christ. And he repeats, NOTHING can EVER come between us and the love of God. Do we let things get in the way? Or have things clouded our vision of God’s love?
The miracle of today’s Gospel shows that the age of the Messiah has begun. When the people of the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they used the image of the messianic banquet: when the Messiah came, then there would be a lavish banquet at which God would feed all people; there would be food in abundance – good food, fine wine – no one would go hungry.
At first the disciples are anxious about how they could feed such a crowd – and rightly so! Impossible for them to do alone. However, with Jesus’ blessing, their efforts of sharing the little food they had achieve much more than they could have imagined.
So many of the problems we see in our world could be remedied if people came together, and if we shared what God has given us – our resources, our time, our love. And even when things seem impossible, if we do something and seek the Lord to bless and guide what we’re doing – God will help us find a way – God will make possible even what seems impossible.
And yet something keeps us apart – apart from each other, apart from Jesus. Something keeps us on our own. Something keeps us from dipping our hand and drinking from the living water of Jesus. This is what the Pope meant when he spoke of our societies, where alongside material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair.
The Gospel story of today has embedded within it echoes of the eucharist. Jesus TAKES the loaves and fishes; he BLESSES them, BREAKS them, and GIVES them … the same actions he will perform at the Last Supper when the Eucharistic meal is given to the church. And this highlights how important our gathering for the eucharist is for us to enter into the kingdom of Jesus, and to further that Kingdom in our world.
Here in the eucharist we are invited: COME! eat and drink! Partake of the meal which points us to the banquet of God’s kingdom. The eucharist gathers us together: instead of being isolated individuals, we realize that we are brothers and sisters, united by love. The eucharist keeps us from living with that unnamed fear: we are not alone … and NOTHING, NOT EVER, can come between us and the love of God. In coming together, and in sharing our lives, we realize that with the Lord’s blessing we can achieve things that we could NOT do on our own: we can help his kingdom to become a reality in our world.
Let us then enter into this eucharist with joy: let us drink from the living water of Jesus; may we be strengthened to share his life giving water – the love of God – with the world around us – so that they too may know, with us, the joy, the deep peace, of life lived in God’s kingdom.