Readings: Is 55:1-3; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21
Spiritual thirsty and hungering for God are that key phrases that help to focus on the central message. The story is told about four sailors whose ship had sunk and were now adrift on a lifeboat on the Atlantic Ocean. They were near the equator and were so thirsty that they were squeezing moisture from pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When rescuers finally responded to the SOS and arrived, the sailors were almost dying from dehydration. After reviving them, the rescuers informed the sailors that: while they were fighting over a few drops of moisture, they had actually been floating on drinkable water! They were near the Amazon River - a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean. They could have dipped a bucket off the side of their boat and drawn out drinkable water. I tell this story because at times we resemble the sailors on that lifeboat - thirsty, but unaware of a readily available source of fresh water – Jesus Christ. We are hard-wired to hunger and thirst for God. At times like the sailors on the lifeboat we get disoriented and begin to drink dirty water and to eat junk food while the lord is offering us a banquet. In the first reading the Israelites are in exile. They have become disoriented and abandoned their God. That is why the Lord through the prophet Isaiah invites all people to “come to the water… eat and drink for free.” Nowhere does such a world of free lunch exist except what God offers us.
In the gospel reading Jesus multiplies five loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of about 5,000 who have followed him in a deserted place. Jesus has been teaching the crowds with God’s word all day. When evening comes, the disciples plead with Jesus to dismiss the crowds, but Jesus out of compassion asks the disciples to feed the people. All they have is five loaves and two fish. Then Jesus asks them to bring the loaves and the fish to him. You can imagine what was going on in the minds of the disciples. What next! They had forgotten that Jesus can multiply these loaves and the fish to feed a multitude. Then, he took the loaves, blessed and broke them and gave them to the disciples to give to the people. We hear that “All ate and were satisfied.” The feeding of the 5,000 teaches about God's providential care for our basic needs but it also points to how God cares for our spiritual hunger. We are hard-wired for hungering and thirsting for God. Hunger and thirst for God is at the very root of our being. It’s the way God made us. As saint Augustine said “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” (Lib 1,1-2,2.5,5) We yearn for God; we hunger for God. When there is no hunger for the presence of God, it is an indicator that something is wrong spiritually. Because that hunger is so basic to human nature, it often finds fulfilment in other areas rather than in seeking God. When one loses appetite for God one will soon die of spiritual hunger. Both the first reading and the Gospel call us back to the source of water and to the one who feeds us. For disciples and stewards, when we have more and more thirst and hunger for God that is a good sign of spiritual health. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) We are hard-wired for hungering and thirsting for God. Hunger and thirst for God is at the very root of our being. It’s the way God made us. 2) When one loses appetite for God one will soon die of spiritual hunger. 3) The source of fresh waters (Jesus Christ) is right here inviting us to come and eat and drink at every Eucharistic celebration. “Come to the water!” Come and eat; come and drink.
©2014 John S. Mbinda