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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Jer 28:1-17): In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah, son of Azzur, from Gibeon, said to me in the house of the Lord in the presence of the priests and all the people: «Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will restore to this place all the vessels of the temple of the Lord which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took away from this place to Babylon. And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles of Judah who went to Babylon’, says the Lord, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon’».

The prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people assembled in the house of the Lord, and said: «Amen! thus may the Lord do! May he fulfill the things you have prophesied by bringing the vessels of the house of the Lord and all the exiles back from Babylon to this place! But now, listen to what I am about to state in your hearing and the hearing of all the people. From of old, the prophets who were before you and me prophesied war, woe, and pestilence against many lands and mighty kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as truly sent by the Lord only when his prophetic prediction is fulfilled».

Thereupon the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it, and said in the presence of all the people: «Thus says the Lord: ‘Even so, within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of all the nations’». At that, the prophet Jeremiah went away.

Some time after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: «Go tell Hananiah this: ‘Thus says the Lord: By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke! For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I will place on the necks of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him’».

To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said: «Hear this, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, and you have raised false confidence in this people. For this, says the Lord, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth; this very year you shall die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord». That same year, in the seventh month, Hananiah the prophet died.
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law.

Take not the word of truth from my mouth, for in your ordinances is my hope.

Let those turn to me who fear you and acknowledge your decrees.

Let my heart be perfect in your statutes, that I be not put to shame.

Sinners wait to destroy me, but I pay heed to your decrees.

From your ordinances I turn not away, for you have instructed me.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 1:49b): Alleluia. Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 14,13-21): On hearing the death of John the Baptist, Jesus set out secretly by boat for a secluded place. But the people heard of it, and they followed him on foot from their towns. When Jesus went ashore, He saw the crowd gathered there and He had compassion on them. And He healed their sick.

Late in the afternoon, his disciples came to him and said, «We are in a lonely place and it is now late. You should send these people away, so they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat». But Jesus replied, «They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat». They answered, «We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes». Jesus said to them, «Bring them here to me».

Then He made everyone sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fishes, raised his eyes to heaven, pronounced the blessing, broke the loaves and handed them to the disciples to distribute to the people. And they all ate, and everyone had enough; then the disciples gathered up the leftovers, filling twelve baskets. About five thousand men had eaten there besides women and children.

«Raised his eyes to heaven»

Fr. Xavier ROMERO i Galdeano (Cervera, Lleida, Spain)

Today, the Gospel touches our “mental pockets”... This is why, as in Jesus' times, the voice of the prudent ones can be heard weighing whether this is worth our while. When they saw it was getting late, the disciples, who did not know how to handle the crowd gathered around Jesus, found a reasonable option: «they can go to the villages and buy something for themselves to eat» (Mt 14:15). Little did they expect their Lord and Master to break this sensible advise by telling them: «you give them something to eat» (Mt 14:16).

A popular saying goes: «He who does not count on God, does not know how to count». And it is true, the disciples did not know —neither do we— how to count for they forgot, as we often forget, the most important part of the addition: God himself is always amongst us.

The disciples did their calculation right; they figured out the exact number of loaves and fishes, but how could they possibly divide them amongst such a huge crowd?; this is why they cautiously said: «We have nothing here but five loaves and two fishes» (Mt 14:17). But they did not realize they also had Jesus—true God and true man— among them!

By quoting St. Josemaria Escrivà, it would not do us any harm to remember here that: «It is a good thing in our apostolate —it is in fact an obligation—to figure out our earthly means (2+2=4), but do not ever forget! you must also luckily count on another addend: God +2 +2...». Christian optimism is not based upon the absence of difficulties, of resistance and of personal errors, but upon God who says: «And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age» (Mt 28:20)

It would be good that both you and I, when facing our own difficulties, and prior to granting a death sentence to the boldness and optimism of the Christian spirit, we could relay upon God. If only we could say along with St. Francis that great prayer: «Wherever there is hate let me put love»; that is, wherever my accounts do not square up, let me rely upon God.