Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gospel for Wednesday, 1st Week in Advent

From: Matthew 15:29-37

The Canaanite Woman (Continuation)
[29] And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And He went up into the hills, and sat down there. [30] And great crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at His feet, and He healed them, [31] so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.

Second Miracle of the Loaves
[32] Then Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days, and having nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." [33] And the disciples said to Him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" [34] And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." [35] And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, [36] He took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. [37] And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.
29-31. Here St. Matthew summarizes Jesus' activity in this border area where Jews and pagans were living side by side. As usual He teaches and heals the sick; the Gospel account clearly echoes the prophecy of Isaiah which Christ Himself used to prove that He was the Messiah (Luke 7:22): "the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped..." (Isaiah 35:5).

"They glorified the God of Israel": this clearly refers to the Gentiles, who thought that God could give the power to work miracles to Jews only. Once again the Gentiles are seen to have more faith than the Jews.

32. The Gospels speak of our Lord's mercy and compassion towards people's needs: here He is concerned about the crowds who are following Him and who have no food. He always has a word of consolation, encouragement and forgiveness: He is never indifferent. However, what hurts Him most are sinners who go through life without experiencing light and truth: He waits for them in the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance.

33-38. As in the case of the first multiplication (14:13-20), the Apostles provide our Lord with the loaves and the fish. It was all they had. He also avails of the Apostles to distribute the food--the result of the miracle--to the people. In distributing the graces of salvation God chooses to rely on the faithfulness and generosity of men. "Many great things depend--don't forget--on whether you and I live our lives as God wants" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 755).

It is interesting to note that in both miracles of multiplication of loaves and fish Jesus provides food in abundance but does not allow anything to go to waste. All Jesus' miracles, in addition to being concrete historical events, are also symbols of supernatural realities. Here abundance of material food also signifies abundance of divine gifts on the level of grace and glory: it refers to spiritual resources and eternal rewards; God gives people more graces than are strictly necessary. This is borne out by Christian experience throughout history. St. Paul tells us that "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Romans 5:20); he speaks of "the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us" (Ephesians 1:8) and tells his disciple Timothy that "the grace of our Lord overflowed for me and with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 1:14).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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