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Back The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Friday, July 31, 2020
Throughout this summer, I have been watching a youth AAU Basketball team as they resumed practice in an outdoor setting. The coaches are always stressing the importance of “team play.” Being part of a team doesn’t mean you’re the hotdog shooter all the time. The youthful players are growing in their ability to trust each other on the same team and work together to score.
This weekend’s Biblical lesson from the Gospel of Matthew, features a miracle story that is recorded in all four Gospels. This years Evangelist, Matthew, situates the story just after Jesus hears the news of the death of John and Baptizer. The sad news has a strong impact upon Jesus who withdraws from the crowd into a deserted place to pray, think, and reflect upon His loss. Hardly giving Him any time alone the crowds find Him and He is moved with pity for them; curing many who were ill. Recognizing the arid conditions they were in, the twelve approach Jesus with a reasonable request that He dismiss the crowds so they could take care of their necessities like food and water. The response of Jesus is shocking: “give them some food yourselves.” Taking His response very literally they reveal that they only have five loaves and a few fish; a hopeless situation indeed. Jesus, the captain of the team, however, sees things quite differently as He directs the disciples to have the group recline. Jesus patterns for them the work of Team Jesus. To raise up all you have, give thanks, and give all to others is the focus of His lesson to the twelve. Jesus then gives the divided loaves and fish to His disciples to distribute. The end result is that each of the twelve return with a full basket of leftovers from what was just a meager beginning. As team members they witnessed the miracle; they were part of it as well.
The Church selects the passage from Isaiah 55 to assist us in recognizing that through Jesus, God is calling people of every nation into the peace of God’s Kingdom. The text invites all to find nourishment at God’s Kingdom table.
We are all disciples, students of Jesus. However, being part of Team Jesus, we too will be sent out to give witness to the miracles of God’s Kingdom. Many of us may feel inadequate for the task much like the disciples who just saw their meager allotment of food supplies. However, like the twelve we need to follow the instructions of our captain. Only then will we too witness the miracles at His hand. We are not working alone. We are part of a team. Jesus is leading the way. What role or position Jesus is asking you to play on the team?