Sunday 2nd August – 8th Sunday after Trinity
Almighty Lord and everlasting God,
we beseech you to direct, sanctify and govern
both our hearts and bodies
in the ways of your laws
and the works of your commandments;
that through your most mighty protection, both here and ever,
we may be preserved in body and soul;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Lord says this: Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
When Jesus heard that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the 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. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Post Communion Prayer
Strengthen for service, Lord,
the hands that have taken holy things;
may the ears which have heard your word
be deaf to clamour and dispute;
may the tongues which have sung your praise be free from deceit;
may the eyes which have seen the tokens of your love
shine with the light of hope;
and may the bodies which have been fed with your body
be refreshed with the fullness of your life;
glory to you for ever.
Trinity 8 2020 – Reflection
On the face of it, in today’s Gospel reading we have an account of Jesus, feeding 5000 people with just five loaves and two fish. It testifies to Jesus’ divine power. In number, it surpasses those satisfied in similar miraculous feedings in the Old Testament, suggesting that, in Jesus, we have something on offer from God that is far greater than what has gone before: the offer of a new covenant with God that cannot be broken.
It also, however, encourages in us a desire to minister to those in need, even when the situation seems impossible. Jesus is seeking solitude with his disciples, but they are followed by the crowds. Jesus did not send the people away to fend for themselves. Instead, he stood firm in his faith, prayed to God, and took the initiative to feed the people. He had no responsibility to do this but was driven by his compassion for people in need. A compassion that we all share. Jesus is not annoyed by the persistence of the crowd, but instead has compassion for them.
The needs of the people explicitly talked about in today’s Gospel reading are food and physical sustenance. There will undoubtedly be allusions to the need for spiritual food and sustenance of the spirit, but there is still the need for actual food. The need for actual food is just as pertinent today as it has ever been. The hungry are with us today as much as ever. It may be more obvious, however, that the hunger results from human shortcomings.
This story of the feeding of the five thousand then is told to us as deeply symbolic story, a historic incident that points us forward to the Eucharist. Remember also that the Eucharist is a promise of the feast of the heavenly banquet. However the story also reminds us of the Exodus far off in the past history of God’s people, when God fed the people in the desert on manna after their escape from slavery in Egypt. Matthew through this story and many others in the gospel shows us that Jesus is the new and greater Moses. Moses had been the leader of God’s people centuries previously, and, traditionally, the person to whom the Law was revealed. Matthew is telling us that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the giver of the new law of love, the Saviour of God’s people, come to inaugurate God’s kingdom.
In all today’s readings we are told that God will provide food for all those who trust in him. That trust does not mean waiting for a miracle. In Christ we have a solution to famines, but not the solution of miraculous intervention. Faith is not about waiting for God to do things for us, but about us doing what God wants. Famine is not a call to faith but is rather the result of lack of faith. There is famine in the world, because we do not live as God wants us to live.
Perhaps today’s readings ask us to act on our compassion for those in need, whether by word or deed, and trust that others will see the justice of our cause and join us. Then, a dire situation which seems impossible may receive Christ’s love through our actions.