Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A


George F. Riley, O.S.A.
St. Thomas Monastery
Villanova, Pennsylvania

1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a
Ps 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Rom 9:1-5
Mt 14:22-33

There were three perfectly simple and natural reasons why Jesus should seek to be alone.

1. He was human and he needed rest.

2. He never recklessly ran into danger, and it was well to withdraw lest too early he should share the fate of John.

3. Jesus sought time alone to grieve. John, his kinsmen and his herald, had met a brutal end. The Lord who wept for his friend Lazarus surely grieved deeply for John.

So the Lord sought rest for his body and consolation for his soul in the lonely places. But he was not to get either. The crowds flocked round the top of the lake and were waiting for him at the other side when he arrived. So Jesus healed them, and when the evening came, he fed them before they took the long road home.

Few of Jesus’ miracles are so revealing as this. It tells of the compassion of Jesus. When he saw the crowds he was filled with compassion to the depths of his being. That is a very wonderful thing. Jesus had come to find peace and quiet and loneliness. Instead he found a vast crowd eagerly demanding what he could give. He might so easily have resented them. What right had they to invade his privacy with their incessant demands? Was he to have no rest and quiet, no time to himself at all?

Far from finding them a nuisance, he was moved with compassion for them. He took what food there was and he said the blessing. The Jewish grace before meals was very simple. “Blessed are thou, Lord our God, king of the universe, who bring forth bread from the earth.” And having give God the thanks that were His due, Jesus then gave his followers the tasks which are their due. Jesus gave to the disciples and the disciples gave to the crowd. Jesus worked through the hands of his disciples that day, and still does today.

Again and again we come face to face with this truth which is at the heart of the Church. The disciple is helpless without his Lord, but the Lord needs his disciples. He needs people through whom he can act and through whom he can speak. We have been called for this purpose. We exist for service. It is through our service to the lost and heartbroken, the sick and the hungry, that Christ leads us into the life of God Himself. Jesus obeys the Father Who sent him because he is the Son. We obey the Son Who sends us that we might become the Father’s adopted children.

So when you long for a nap but the phone rings, when you seek a quiet hour but a neighbor in need drops by, rejoice! Rejoice, and give God thanks that He has found you worthy to share the work of the Apostles. Rejoice, and receive the compassion of the Spirit, and give to others what you have received from the hands of the Lord: truth, mercy, and forgiveness.