18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

1. If you are like me, you have had to ration your consumption of news.

a. I, who used to have WNYC playing in the background,

b. watched cable news,

c. and devoured books on current events,

i. Now I have all I can do to read the New York Times.

2. And yet I do read the Times, and if you do too

3. you might have discovered that

a. in the midst of national lockdown,

b. political melt down

c. and economic downturn,

4. there is one group whose economic fortunes are skyrocketing: Tailors.

5. And that is because they know a secret that many of us have tried to hide;

a. That during the four months of lockdown,

b. the “19” in CoVID – 19 does not refer to the year it was discovered;

c. but to the average number of pounds we gained!

6. And tailors all over the city report a surge in alterations

a. now that we are emerging from quarantine,

b. having to put on something else other than sweatpants,

c. and we are realizing that things don’t QUITE fit like they used to;

i. and in many cases do not fit at all.

7. And while of course this small article in the Times

a. is easily overlooked amidst the avalanche of other news,

b. and pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dead and the millions infected by CoVID-19,

c. it points out that while quarantine and facemasks and social distancing can help flatten the curve,

d. They are no protection against other illnesses

i. Like obesity.

8. We Americans eat too much,

9. And The last four months have only added to the tonnage.

10. This is a crisis for us medically,

a. as obesity causes other health issues

11. It is a crisis for us psychologically,

a. because our unhealthy relationship with food can cause us to isolate and damage our self-image,

12. But today, this is also a crisis for us theologically,

a. Because our weight makes us incapable of understanding the Scriptures- especially the Gospel.

b. Why? Because although we all feel hunger,

c. we have no idea of what it is like to be so hungry

d. that we would do anything to get something to eat.

13. The people of Israel understood this;

a. For their life revolved around the acquisition and preparation of food.

b. When times were good there was usually enough to eat;

i. but often times were not good.

ii. War forced men to fight and abandon their fields

iii. poverty forced women to work and abandon their families.

iv. injustice forced people to pay the food they produced

1. as taxes to the king,

2. or as tithes to the temple.

14. The people of Israel were hungry! but not just for food;

a. They were hungry for the peace that would let them grow it

b. The justice that would let them keep it

c. And the mercy that would let them share it generously with all in need.

15. And as the people of Israel looked around them,

a. they knew only God could truly satisfy THAT hunger

16. and thus when they spoke of God ruling “on earth as in heaven” as we pray in the Our Father,

17. They spoke of it in the only way they could think of, the only way that made sense; The way that Isaiah speaks of it in today’s first reading.

18. they spoke of it as a feast; of peace, of justice and of mercy.

19. A large crowd of some five thousand men,

a. and who knows how many women and children

b. followed Jesus across the sea of Galilee in today’s Gospel, They had seen him heal, listened to him preach heard his “good News” and they wanted more. Why?

20. Because they were hungry;

i. hungry for the peace that came to those he healed

ii. Hungry for the justice which came through that healing,

1. Which corrected the injustice of illness

iii. Hungry for the mercy that was shown in his healing.

b. but they were also hungry for something else: food!

i. The disciples want to send them away find something to eat;

ii. But Jesus tells them to feed them themselves.

iii. His disciples thought he was crazy, for they were far from any source of food.

21. But then Jesus takes a few loaves and fish, he blesses them, and gives them, and gives, them, and gives them again.

a. He gives them until they all finally had their fill.

22. Now, the disciples had heard the ancient stories of God feeding Moses and the Israelites in the desert

23. They knew the tales of the prophet Elijah feeding the people with loaves of barley

24. And they knew Isaiah’s promise that the sign of the coming of the reign of God on earth would be a feast:

25. BUT now they had seen with their own eyes,

26. and tasted it with their own mouths,

a. and it began to dawn on them that Jesus would satisfy their hunger;

i. not only their hunger for food;

1. but their deeper hunger for peace, for justice and for mercy

27. In Jesus they had found God, breaking into their world here and now,

a. Announcing God’s kingdom of peace and justice and mercy.

1. And they had found it when they shared with him a meal.

28. We, with our food-filled kitchens and stomachs, might not understand the hunger of those five thousand people in today’s gospel for food.

a. Except for those brave few of us who have decided not to alter our clothes but to go on diets.

b. And even a diet cannot produce the hunger that many live with every day.

29. But surely we understand their deeper hunger?

a. For we live in a world where the peace of 50 years of international diplomacy has been shaken,

i. alliances broken,

ii. and whole countries are abandoned to instability, poverty and revolution.

b. Where justice has been denied and dreams deferred to countless numbers of Americans of color,

c. and demonstrations continue to roil American cities,

i. angering some,

ii. frightening others

iii. and worrying many more that our democratic system of government is in danger.

d. And where the mercy that we were once known for as a country;

i. Which treated our conquered enemies as allies

1. and built up structures of education and trade that enabled our nation to lead and enriched the world,

2. Has been replaced with tariffs and trade wars fed with prejudice against those who are not one of us.

30. NO, when it comes to peace, and justice and mercy,

a. we are every bit as hungry as those people in today’sGospel are,

b. Yet all too often we forget what they knew

c. That while the struggle for peace, justice and mercy is ours,

i. The strength that makes that struggle possible

ii. And the hunger that ultimately drives that struggle

iii. Is ultimately only satisfied in God.

1. Which is why those hungry people came to Jesus across the Sea of Galilee,

2. and if we are honest with ourselves, why we are here.

d. For in a world shattered by war and violence and prejudice,

i. we gather here; the rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, Conservative and liberal, people who speak different languages, come from different cultures, and live different lifestyles.

e. all of us in one place around one table to share in one meal with Jesus.

f. Are we now, in these dark times

i. Finally Able to see why this meeting, this meal

ii. this mass

iii. we have celebrated for centuries is so important

1. and why it always has been?

31. because we are still hungry for God’s kingdom;

a. and when we open our eyes and look around,

b. we can see it, breaking in right here and right now,

i. as we gather together in all our blessed diversity

ii. with Jesus as he gives himself to us in this meal.

32. But remember all those stories in the gospels about people being given things; talents and treasures and loaves and fishes?

a. All those parables had a point;

b. that what is given must be given again;

c. talents that are bestowed must be used,

d. Bread that is broken must be shared

e. And thus this foretaste of the rule of God in this world will never satisfy our hunger,

f. Unless we take what we receive here, and use it, share it, and give it.

g. So that Others might hear the invitation Isaiah makes in this morning’s first reading, “all you who are thirsty, come to the water; You who have no money come receive grain and eat” as that invitation to join in that great feast of faith and life, of mercy justice and peace which is Jesus’ kingdom.

h. Which we taste here.

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