Thus says the Lord, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters,
and you who have no money; come, buy, and eat without cost; yes, come,
buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money
for that which is not bread and your labor for that which doesn't satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and you shall eat well, and let your soul delight
itself in rich fare. Turn your ear, and come to me; hear and your
soul shall live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the
benefits assured to David.
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Brothers and sisters, who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness,
or peril, or sword? No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things
to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus
Now when Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew
from there in a boat, to a deserted place apart. When the multitudes heard
it, they followed him on foot from the cities. Jesus went out, and
he saw a great multitude. He had compassion on them, and healed their
sick. When evening had come, his disciples came to him, saying, "This
place is deserted, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes
away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food."
But Jesus said to them, "They don't need to go away. You give them something
to eat." They told him, "We only have here five loaves and two fish."
He said, "Bring them here to me." He commanded the multitudes to
sit down on the grass; and he took the five loaves and the two fish, and
looking up to heaven, he blessed, broke and gave the loaves to the disciples,
and the disciples gave to the multitudes. They all ate, and were filled.
They took up twelve baskets full of that which remained left over from
the broken pieces. Those who ate were about five thousand men, besides
women and children.
longtime national and international activist in the peace movement, Bishop
Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA and an outspoken critic
of the sanctions against Iraq.
has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, and has published
numerous articles and reports.
** Scripture texts in this
work are in modified form from the American Standard Version of the Bible
and are available as part of the public domain.
For your convenience, the
Scripture texts, as they appear in the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the
Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright ©
1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.,
may be found at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic
|I recognize how warm
it is. Yet, it’s still important for us to take a few moments to
reflect on today’s scripture lessons, to make them our own and really let
this word of God enter into our heart and change us.
As I reflected on these
lessons this week, the first thing that came to my mind is something that
we do every so often here at Saint Leo’s and I ask you to do it again today.
Bishop Gumbleton leads the congregation by saying to them: “God is good.”
The congregation responds back with: “All the time.” This is repeated
three times. Following this, Bishop Gumbleton continues his homily.]
Today, we really should
realize this, that all three of the lessons are telling us that God is
good; God is good, all the time. We’re so blessed. If only
we let ourselves realize this that God is good because God is love.
In the first lesson today,
Isaiah was proclaiming a message to people who were in exile because they
had been unfaithful to God. They had not listened to God’s word in
the past and, because they had failed to heed God, they found themselves
overwhelmed by their enemies. They had not been faithful to God.
They were in exile and, yet, now Isaiah is telling them: “God is bringing
you back and your exile will be over.” And then Isaiah invites them, in
those words that we heard in the first lesson today, reminding them: “You
haven’t earned any of this and you don’t have to earn it. Come all you
who are thirsty, come to the water. You have no money, come anyway.
Yes, without money and at no cost….”
God is promising them
what they need for their human life -- but even beyond that, gifts that
only God can give; gifts of genuine life forever. Come and receive
these gifts. You don’t have to pay. God’s love is waiting,
always waiting to be gracious to us.
We always have a hard
time, actually, believing that. We’re so used to the idea that you
don’t get things for nothing. You need to work. You need to earn
what you get. There’s no free lunch, we say. So sometimes we’re
really harsh on the poor and we say, “Well, if they only worked harder,
they could get more.” And we’re so caught up in that idea that you
don’t get anything unless you earn it. You have to deserve it.
We talk about the so called deserving poor and ignore them. But that’s
not God. That’s not the way God’s love works.
In fact, if you go just
a little bit further in that passage of Isaiah, you have God saying through
Isaiah: “Seek God, while God may be found. Call to God, God is near.
Let the wicked abandon their way and let them forsake their thoughts.
Turn to God for God will have mercy. For our God is generous and
forgiving.” And then how God is described by Isaiah: “For my thoughts
are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways,” says God. “For as the
heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my
thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
We really have to break
out of our own kind of closed attitude about God’s love. It isn’t
like we act so often where we want to return something for someone who
has given us something or vise versa. We expect to be given something
when we give. We expect to earn what we get. God says, “No,
it’s not like that at all. I love you always and loved you first.”
And isn’t that what Jesus
is showing us in the gospel?
Now here he was, overwhelmed
with sorrow and grief. And remember Jesus really did feel just like
we feel when someone very close to us dies. In this case, John had
been killed in a very humiliating way. He had been mocked.
A young dancer had his head given to her mother on a dish by Herod who
had no respect for John the Baptist, the great prophet. He had him
beheaded and made a mockery of him. And Jesus had to experience all
of that about his friend.
Jesus goes away, overwhelmed
by sorrow. But people come to him because they have seen in him the
love of God. That’s why they come flocking to him. And, of course,
on this occasion, too, Matthew tells us that Jesus didn’t say, “No, I have
to be by myself.” Jesus looked at these people and he had compassion
and love. His whole heart went out to them. This is God’s love
And, of course, the incident
that takes place then shows us that the love of God is without limit.
Jesus feeds these people and there’s way more than they need. God’s
love is just beyond limit, it’s overly abundant.
And Saint Paul says,
“What can separate us from that love of God?” Nothing. Nothing
can break that bond of love. We have to try to realize that, no matter
how often we fail, no matter what we might think about ourselves.
So often, we do kind
of make bad judgments about ourselves, hold ourselves in low esteem and
don’t have much self esteem sometimes. And we don’t really realize
what a gift we are because of what God has given us. We fail and
so we think that God couldn’t love me. But Paul says, “Nothing, nothing,
absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
It’s an unbreakable bond. God has taken this initiative toward every
one of us. God loves us and nothing can break that bond of love.
This is what God’s word
is proclaiming to us today. We have to try and let that enter deeply
into our hearts and into our minds and into our whole beings. Come
to experience that God loves for me. God reaches out in love to me
in love first and nothing will ever stop God from loving me.
As we do begin to experience
that, our first reaction will be a profound sense of gratitude and joy.
If we really let ourselves become aware deeply in our consciousness that
I am loved by God, we will be bursting forth with joy and gratitude.
We will experience a deep sense of peace in our heart that no one can take
away from us.
But then, also, as we
begin to understand better how God loves us, how that presence of God’s
love is in Jesus who is still present in our world, it will help us to
be aware that just as God loves us first, we must reach out in love to
other people and do it first. Not just respond in love to someone
who loves us, but always be quick to love and to love first.
And it’s very clear,
isn’t it, that if Jesus were here this morning and if he was looking on
all of us, but also looking beyond us to the world in which we live, his
heart would be overflowing with compassion and with love. Now he
couldn’t bear the idea that these people had spent all that time in this
deserted place and were without food--they needed to be fed.
Now look at our world.
These are numbers that we’ve heard before. But listen to them today
with an awareness of how much we’re loved by God and how much we’re blessed
by God and how Jesus would be looking on our world. A world in which
1.3 billion people try to survive on one dollar a day and 3 billion more
people on 2 dollars a day. Most of the people on our planet are hungry.
They’re without water. They’re without food, without education, without
medical care. Most of the people are like those people in that deserted
Can’t you understand
that Jesus looks upon them with compassion and love?
Ok, we begin to understand
that and so we say, “What do we have? Well, we’re just like the disciples,
we only have five loaves and two fishes. What do you expect us to
do? What do you think that we can do with that?” Well, Jesus
says, “Let me bless those and you just begin to distribute.” And
so they go among the crowd and people begin to share. That’s the miracle.
Everyone begins to share because Jesus has blessed the food that they start
with and they share and everyone has more than enough.
That could happen in
our world. There is more than enough for everybody, but you and I
don’t share enough. Not only with the excess that we have, but we
also don’t try to change things so that people will not be so deprived
and that the resources of the world will be more fully shared by everyone.
You might say, “What
can I do? I’m only one person.” Well Jesus didn’t let the disciples
off that easily, did he?” Do what you can and God will do the rest.
I read a story, but I
don’t if it’s true or not. It may be true. A few years ago
there was an earthquake in Japan, you may remember this. The story
says that a youngster was going through a neighborhood trying to sell postcards
for just a few cents each. So he stopped at one house and the person
there said, “What are you going to do with the money that you make?” This
youngster says, “I’m raising a million dollars for earthquake relief.”
“Well, your just a tiny little kid,” the man thought. “That’s pretty
funny.” And the man said, “Are you going to do that all by yourself?”
And he says, “Oh no, my little brother is going to help me.” So these
two little kids are going to raise a million dollars. Well, of course,
they won’t. But that’s the spirit we need to have, every one of us.
Do what we can and imitate the love of Jesus. Reach out first and
share whatever we have.
If we do that, then we
will realize even more, every one of us, that God loves me. And we
will realize again, and everyday we will know this deeply, that God is
good all the time, God is good all the time, and God shares that goodness
through every one of us.
In the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.