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18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014
Cycle A

First Reading
Isaiah 55:1-3

Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

Second Reading
Romans 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Gospel Cycle A
Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." But they said to him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said, "Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

How hungry are you? In the readings today we meet both physical and spiritual hunger. For sure we must eat physical food to go on living. We need to understand that real people need to eat and cannot live just on spiritual longings. On the other hand, many people get so caught up in their physical desires and needs that they effectively block spiritual hunger for long periods of time in their lives. Some people would even claim never to have had spiritual hunger.

For those of us who are aware of our spiritual hunger, there is a challenge to find the food that will help us live spiritually. Even if we have had many years in the Church, we can still ignore our spiritual hunger and get caught up in other realities.

The Prophet Isaiah today, in our first reading, is speaking to people who have known the revelation of God, whose ancestors encountered the living God. Yet all of these people have gone astray in spite of these experiences. Some of us have had spiritual experiences and then forgotten them or ignored them or have not pursued the reality present in those experiences.

The reading from the Letter to the Romans today assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. We can personally choose against that love yet Christ continues to love us. Many of us spend great parts of our lives choosing against that love, and finally we might recognize a spiritual hunger in ourselves and begin to choose for love at least a bit less inconsistently.

Jesus wants to cure us and heal us. Jesus wants to feed us. Even in his days on earth, when He was tired and worn out and discouraged, Jesus still consistently chose to love us. This teaches us how to love as well and how to feed others. We are expected not just to eat, but to feed others.

So the readings today challenge us to see our own hunger, to begin to work with the hunger that is within us, to seek the Lord. Then we must open our eyes and our hearts and see the hunger all around us. Then we can begin to walk in the steps of our Lord Jesus and heal and feed others.