The pharisee Gamaliel, at whose feet Paul would later claim to have been instructed in the Law, a wise man of many years, unwittingly gives the reason why the church of Jesus Christ has endured for many generations. “If it comes from God you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” The community of believers founded by Jesus Christ both nourishes and transforms its members and the world around it because its origin is God, not some charismatic leader’s wealth, influence, or outsized ego. Charismatic leaders eventually fade, along with their wealth, influence, and ego. Their impact on the world will continue to diminish because things of primarily human origin are not meant to last. Kingdoms and nations will rise and fall. Philosophies and popular movements will fluctuate in and out of our consciousness. What lasts can only come from One who is not limited by time.
The account of Jesus’ feeding the 5000 is a departure from the resurrection stories we have been hearing these past two weeks. But it gives us a glimpse into the life of the community of believers and provides a generic pattern for our liturgy. First Jesus teaches us, then he feeds us. We hear the lessons of sacred scripture, then we break bread and share the cup. In these current circumstances, we are prevented from breaking bread and sharing the cup. But we are not deprived of God’s Word that nourishes our hearts and minds. Without physical food, our physical bodies will starve. And if the church was fed with physical food alone, no doubt it too will starve and die. But Jesus has given us food that endures so that we might endure, his holy Word that nourishes us to life.
We might have to reset our understanding of Sunday Mass from thinking we are doing something necessary for God, to knowing that God is doing something necessary for us. If grandma gathers the family every Sunday for a big family dinner after church, and for one reason or another I am not able to sit at her table, it isn’t grandma who goes hungry. God wants to feed us. We need to want to come to the table.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Jean & Tom Foley.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020