Balik-Tanaw | Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: An invitation to abundant life

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By SR. MAUREEN CATABIAN, RGS

Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 145: 8-9, 15-18
Romans 8: 35, 37-39
Matthew 14: 13-21

Our God is marvelous and awesome. Truly a God of abundance. A God who is the Creator of the universe (now Megaverse) took a grand risk in Loving us His creation by establishing a covenant with humanity- and everlasting at that! “I will make with you an everlasting covenant” – no fixed or definite time which is yet to come in the future or will expire in time. But is a timeless “Now” which is always present at each moment all the time. Such everlasting covenant is an invitation to abundant life!

Isaiah says : “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come,buy wine and mild without money and without price.” With these prophecy of Isaiah, I Imagine a world where there is no hunger because all things are available for All – for free because it is flowing from God’s abundance because of His eternal covenant with us!

The prophet Isaiah continues: “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” Looking at our world now, I also want to ask- Why spend your money to produce arms and weapons that kill? Why not instead spend on healthy food and safe water to prolong life? Or good education that liberates us from ignorance? Or build modest comfortable homes available for all to sustain human dignity? Instead, why are there individuals, families and communities who feed and survive on trash? The prophecy continues: “Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Isaiah is prophesying against the global issue of Food insecurity and global inequality!

The Letter of Paul to the Romans asserts – “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” Nothing is supposed to separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus, we are in communion with God. In the Eucharist where we receive the body and blood of Christ daily we are made one with God. God’s abundant love and mercy will keep us united with Him – in an everlasting covenant. Therefore, God is the only ground of our being. Nothing less.

But how come many of our brothers and sisters are separated from God’s love due to famine, distress, hardship, persecution, displacement, violence , poverty and death. Simply because, we have systematically broken our relations with this God of life and abundance. Our governments have created structures and supported systems which aggravated this separation by worshiping the god of mammon in the altar of profit. As we can see, the coronavirus pandemic has nakedly exposed and is slowly breaking down all these propped up global economic structures and systems that dehumanizes the world. We cannot breathe anymore!

In the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus had compassion to the great crowd who followed him, he summons the disciples “They need not go away; you give them something to eat”. Taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” The good news is clear. Jesus in communion with the Father has brought providence and abundance. Humanity in communion with the God of Justice can bring liberation to peoples from the shackles of untold suffering and oppression due to inequality. The disciples on the other hand, started from doubt and insecurity when they replied “we have nothing here but five loaves and two fish”. Yet, what the disciples received from Jesus, they gave to the crowds. Then, they took up what was left over of the broken pieces. Everything was shared. So they (more than five thousand men with women and children) all went home nourished well and contented. Indeed, the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. And we shall breathe again! (https://www.bulatlat.com)

Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).

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