Jesus is a man for others. That is why he cannot but respond to their needs. To be his disciple means to follow his example.
The crowds do not leave Jesus alone. They must take him for someone who is ready to respond to their needs.
And those who go to Jesus do not hope in vain. For he takes pity on them and is there to respond to their needs. It does not matter to him that he does not get the peace he wants for himself. So, he puts others’ needs ahead of his.
Jesus, then, leaves God for God, so to speak, and cures the sick (SV.EN IX:252). And though it is already late, he does not stop to respond to the others’ needs.
In the first place, he listens to his disciples’ concern. They ask him to dismiss the crowds so that they can go to where they can buy food for themselves. So, for them, to respond to people’s needs is to let each one be responsible for oneself. And what they ask is reasonable; we must all carry our own loads (Gal 6, 5).
But Jesus disagrees. He tells his disciples, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” He knows better how to respond, in the second place, to another need of the crowds.
Respond to hunger in a radical way.
Jesus, though, does not respond only to what is needed now; he sees the “big picture.” That is, he does not only see the need, but also understands its root cause. And, of course, he wants to dig it out.
But Jesus and his disciples starts out with no more than five loaves and two fish. He says the blessing over them, breaks the loaves and gives them to the disciples. They, in turn, give them to the crowds. And God blesses quickly such small start (see SV.EN II:351). For more than five thousand eat and have their fill. And still there are twelve baskets full of leftover.
Nothing is said about how so many people get to eat and have their fill. Nor is there any mention of loaves and fish multiplying. Jesus only shows us that, to root out hunger, we need to work together and share, for “me-ism” solves nothing.
So, to respond to hunger in a radical way means we have to be and work together and share the little we have. If we heed Jesus, we will eat well. And nothing, no one, will go waste. Hunger, then, will not take us away from Christ and one another. It will, instead, bring us closer.
Yes, Jesus wants to see us near each other and eating our fill of a shared meal. As if in a picnic, where we sit side by side on the grass.
Lord Jesus, you always respond to our needs, and so, you give us food and drink. May your example prod us to do also what you do for us.
2 August 2020
18th Sunday in O.T. (A)
Is 55, 1-3; Rom 8, 35. 37-39; Mt 14, 13-21