DEC. 2. ADVENT. WK 1. WED. (B) Matt. 15. 29-37.
Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and he went up into the hills. He sat there, and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.
But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this deserted place to feed such a crowd?’ Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said ‘and a few small fish.’ Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks and broke them and handed them to the disciples, who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.
God is love, and what we see in this reading is Christ bearing witness to this fundamental truth, a duty that falls also to us. Professing Love is not enough; - we must bear witness to it!
What is Love? It is a generous willingness to put the needs and interests of God and Neighbour ahead of one’s own desires and interests; - and is this not what God himself is doing here; - “loving” all who come to him, all who turn to him?
Is this not what God the Father did when he sent his only Son to become one of us; - to teach us, to make reparation for our sins, and to establish his Church; - it was all done in order to “love us”; - and he wants us to see this; - and do the same!
It is also interesting to note the type of people Christ seeks out! It is not the Scribes and Pharisees, the leaders of the community, but rather “the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others”. Even when choosing his disciples, rather than the educated elite, he chose humble fishermen; - and one of the complaints about Jesus was “he ate with sinners.”
So often, when we “love” we choose those we “like”, or those in a position to help us, but this is not Christ’s way, - rather he chose sinners, those who had nothing; - and especially those who were poor and suffering!
Why did he seek out sinners, and those who were suffering? Because this is one of the primary characteristics of “love”; - to seek out those who are in need; - rather than those I ‘like’ or those who can benefit me!
And notice how Christ conducts himself in this reading. First, he addresses their immediate needs: “The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight”, and after he had done that he said: “I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat.”
So, then he went on to feed them, by yet another miracle, after having cured them of their illnesses and disabilities. The reason for this was twofold; - firstly to show he was God; - and secondly, to show he “loved them”; - two of the main ‘messages’ Christ had for his people on becoming man!