Sun, 4 August 2019
(Nm.11:4-15; Ps.81:2,12-17; Mt.14:13-21)
“Israel I would feed with the best of wheat.”
But the best of wheat they despise, and seek to satiate their appetite with meat. The blessed food from heaven, come from the hand of God, the Israelites soon grow tired of as they travel through the desert. Their stomachs cry out for earthly flesh. As our psalm tells us, the people “heard not” the voice of God but preferred “their own counsels,” so He “gave them up to the hardness of their hearts.” He will give them the meat they desire, and it will bring plague upon them for their lusts against God.
Yet the Lord ever continues to call His people, and in the presence of Jesus that call is fulfilled. In our gospel we see Jesus taking it upon Himself to feed the hungry masses, caring for their needs, and though some will seek to follow Him just to feed their bellies, others will recognize in His feeding of the five thousand the blessing of God’s providence and His loving care for His children; and their hearts will be open to partake of the spiritual food, the Body and Blood of Christ, which shall be offered forth at the table of the Lord after His death and resurrection. The sacrificial love of Jesus Christ will thus become their own as they unite with Him in flesh and blood, in word and deed – in partaking of the best of wheat. He is the food that sustains us.
The fragments left us in the twelve baskets come down to us this day through His twelve apostles and the Church founded by them in His Name. The fragments we find upon our altar today as our priest prays the blessing over them. And we are fed. And we have life. And we are kept from grumbling against the Lord for all that is not ours in this world, and all the vain things our hearts would otherwise desire… and we endure any suffering that comes to us on our pilgrimage to His Promised Land by the grace of the food offered forth through His holy sacrifice. And we thus become like Him.
If there were no food upon our table, if this sacrifice upon our altars were not the Body and Blood of Christ – if His presence were not real in this best of wheat, this holy manna – we would faint in the desert of this world and be consumed by our own lusts. But as it is the Lord provides the nourishment we need, and body and soul are kept alive even unto paradise.
Eat His Body and drink His Blood, brothers and sisters,
and you shall live in His paradise.
O LORD, let us not complain against your providence;
may we never harden our hearts
but come to your table and eat.
YHWH, how can we complain against you and your providence? Do we not see the food you give us to eat and the blessing it is for our lives? Why do we so easily harden our hearts?
And what does such rebelliousness do but cause us to be separated from you? What does it bring but our own death? To us you give even the flesh of your Son to eat, and yet we turn away from this finest of wheat. O LORD, what hope is there for souls as blind as we?
Your Son takes pity on our plight. He looks on us with healing grace. No need of ours would He leave unmet; yet will we come to His table to eat? O LORD, in His hands let us find our home! Let us trust in His blessing of our lives. Let us not be a burden to Him or His apostles, but join them in carrying your Bread to the world.