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Everyone, Come.

August 2, 2020

A reflection for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year A. The readings are Isaiah  55:1-3; Psalm 145; Romans 8:35, 37-39 and Matthew 14:13:21.

Once again we hear that Gospel that is so familiar to all of us: the feeding of the multitudes or the feeding of the 5000; the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. I can’t help but think of this cartoon above that shows what that would have been like today: Jesus offers bread and fish and someone asks,”is it gluten-free?” Another asks if it has any nuts. Another person yells that they are lactose intolerant. “Is the bread baked locally?” A fourth person asks if the fish has been tested for mercury. Someone else says they can’t eat it ’cause they’re vegan….

Of course, if it happened today, today – it wouldn’t happen because you can’t have outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people: “Jesus feeds the a-hundred.” Doesn’t have the same ring.

It’s funny because it’s true. But I am not saying that these things are bad. Maybe some are whims, but mostly, these are good reasons: We want to be safe; we want to be healthy. This comes out of the fact that we are created in the image of God. That’s why we want life. We want abundant life. We want to have eternal life. Our desire to be healthy, to be fit, to stay young – we eat well and go to the gym – these are all a pull towards the divine. It’s a pull towards God. It’s because we want to live forever.

That’s what’s written in our hearts: We long for God.

I was speaking about this a few days ago with one of the music ministers in our parish. We were speaking about singers and how they tend to be people who want to be known. I guess that’s true of all artists, but we were speaking specifically about singers. They have a voice and they want it heard. To the rest of us it may seem like narcissism, like ego – maybe for some it is – but it comes out a place that is an image of God, who created us in His image. And it’s not just artists; it’s everyone. All of us have a deep desire to be known. It’s a pull towards the divine. because that’s where we belong. That’s where we are created to be. We want to be known by God. We want God to know us.

So these desires are good; they can lead us to God, but they are misdirected. They are directed in every which way except God. I don’t know why it is like that. Maybe that’s just the way it is, or maybe it’s because of our fallen or sinful nature. Maybe it’s because we, the Church have failed at teaching. Maybe it’s because we’ve failed at inviting people to come. Maybe we haven’t been welcoming. I don’t know.

But I do know that this is the message, not only of the readings today but this is the recurring message throughout all of Scripture. God is continually inviting us to “come”: “Come to me.” Today we, literally have the Prophet Isaiah saying, “Come. If you’re hungry, come. If you’re thirsty, come. If you don’t have any money, come.” Can you imagine the Superstore, Wall-mart or Costco advertising one Sunday, for people to come: “Don’t bring any money; everything is free. Come.” Nobody would be at Mass that day; you’d all be there, lined up, in the rain, waiting to get your free stuff.

Yet, this is exactly what God says, “Come. Everyone, come. Everything is free.” And we don’t come. He’s offering us the best, most succulent banquet of everything that we need so we can have abundant and eternal life and we are content eating junk food; junk food that merely satisfies our immediate desires but does not nourish us. It just makes us fat.

That’s why I think St. Paul tells the Romans that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Because nothing can separate us from God, because that’s where we belong. That’s where we are created to be.  That’s why we feel a pull towards God. That’s why St. Augustine, famously said that “our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O Lord.”

Except that one thing does separate us from God, and that is our misdirected desires.

Today is a very good day to begin redirecting our desires towards God: If you are hungry and thirsty, come. If you don’t have any money, come. If you have everything you need, come. If you are lonely, come. If you are comfortable in solitude, come. If you are wise, come. If you are weak, come. If you are a sinner, come. If you are perfect, come. If you are restless, come. If you are busy, come. If you are searching, come. If you have found what you are looking for, come. If you are afraid, come. If you are in pain, come. Did I leave anyone out? If I left you out, come. If no one invited you, come. If you come and you are not welcomed, come. Come. Don’t come because of me, or the priest or the pope. Don’t come because of the preaching or the music.

Come because Christ invited you.

And by “come” I don’t mean physically come into the church building, although that is good. It’s very good to come to Mass at church. But many of you are still not able to come for good reasons. We pray that very soon you will all be able to come and when that is, that you come. But you don’t have to be in the church building to come to the Lord. There are people who come into the church every week who have not come to the Lord. Just tell him that you want to come to him:

“Lord, I want to come to you. Lord, I want my emptiness filled. Lord, I want to be free from my chains. Lord, I want to be free from my pain. Lord I want to live again.”

And then come. Come as a family. Come by yourself. Come to spend some time in quiet or come to spend time with a friend. Come to expand your mind. Come to nourish your soul. Come to worship. Come to ask questions. Come to find answers. Come to be set on fire. Come to find some peace.

Come, because He is here and He wants to be with you.

He opens his hand to feed you. He is the very food that you need. He will satisfy all your needs.

Come and you will have abundant and eternal life.

From → English, Reflections

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