Sunday, 1 August 2021 : Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us about the love which God has shown to all of us, His generosity and compassion towards each and every one of us that He had revealed and delivered. From the very beginning God had always loved us and cared for us, and we really ought to be thankful for everything that He had done for us, as without Him and His love for us, we should have been cast to oblivion and fall into damnation, for all the terrible things and deeds we have done.

I refer to the sins our forefathers have committed, in abandoning the Lord and in refusing to believe in Him throughout history ever since the days of Adam and Eve, when mankind first fell into sin. They had refused to follow the Lord and instead chose to listen to the devil and his lies, his false promises and allowed themselves to fall into the temptations of human desires and wants, as we heard in our first reading today with the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. In that story, we heard how the people of Israel ungratefully rebelled against the Lord and complained against Him for having freed them from the Egyptians.

At that time, despite having themselves seen God’s power and might repeatedly, again and again as God rained down plague after plague on the Egyptians and their Pharaoh, and saved them from the whole might of the Egyptian armies and their chariots, opening the sea before their very own eyes, the people of Israel still refused to believe in God, and still disobeyed Him and doubted Him. Again and again, God had proven His steadfastness and commitment to His people, and yet the people still complained and grumbled, saying that God was leading them to their deaths in the desert from hunger.

They had such little faith in the Lord, but the Lord still loved them all in the end. He Himself showed this as proof, as He sent to the whole nation, every day’s providence and supply, in the form of the manna, the bread from heaven, which appeared every morning without fail except on every Sabbath day. That was how the Lord provided for the people and made them to have enough each and every day for the entire forty years that they were journeying through the desert towards the Promised Land.

And not just that, He also sent them flocks of birds every evening for them to complement their food, and provided crystal clear and good tasting water to drink from the rocks, that the whole multitudes of the Israelites, God’s people, could survive throughout their journey in the desert without the need to worry about their sustenance and survival. For God has always taken care of them and took care of them all the time that they had no need to be worried at all, every single moments of their lives. Those things we have heard and which our predecessors had witnessed in the past were proofs of God’s love for us all.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard about the Lord Who spoke to His people after He had performed the wondrous miracle of the feeding of the five thousand people, in which the large number of people assembled before the Lord all were satisfied and filled with food after they were hungry for many days, having followed the Lord and hearing His teachings. He took the few loaves of bread and little fishes present, gave thanks and blessed the food, and miraculously, out of the little food available, a vast multitudes of supply came about, feeding everyone and made them fully satisfied with plenty of leftovers.

Having heard of all these stories of the Scriptures on how God provided for the need of His people, we are actually reminded that God provides and He is always caring towards us, ever knowing what we truly need in life, be it for sustenance or for guidance and help. God is always ever there, with us and journeying with us. We are all never alone, no matter what. But we must not allow ourselves to be overcome by despair and our human desires, by the temptations of worldly pleasures among other things.

That is why we have to trust in the Lord and to grow in love towards Him, He Who has given Himself so completely towards us, that by giving Himself to us, we may all be saved and gathered together from all the ends of the Earth, and find justification in God. This is what the Lord Himself referred to in our Gospel passage today, as He referred to Himself as the Bread of Life, far greater than the manna that the people of Israel once consumed during the entirety of their Exodus journey. Far greater also than the bread and fishes that the people at the time of Jesus consumed and ate until they were all full.

For the Lord Himself provided all of us with not any form of worldly sustenance, or even any provisions in the manner of the manna of the time of the Exodus. Instead, He did what was unthinkable, and seemingly impossible, that is to give us His own Most Precious Body and Blood, to be shared, shattered and broken for us all. When He spoke to the assembled multitudes as recorded in our Gospel passage today, He gave a premonition and advance revelation of what He would do for the sake of all of us, God’s beloved people.

For it was by His later suffering, rejection, torture, pain and eventually death on the Cross that the Lord had given to us His own Body and Blood, as the sacrificial offering on the Altar of the Cross, and which we then share with one another, as we partake in the Eucharist. The Eucharist, the Most Holy Eucharist, that we celebrate in the Holy Mass, is this very gift of Our Lord, as the Bread of Life, giving us all His own Body and Blood as spiritual and real sustenance.

All of us who have been blessed to receive this gift of the Bread of Life, the Communion in the Eucharist, are those who have received the assurance from the Lord that they will share in the eternal life that has been promised, as long as we partake faithfully in this sharing of the Body of Christ. Through our conscious love for God and for one another, for our fellow brothers and sisters in the same Lord, we have been called to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.

Are we able and willing to trust the Lord in all things, to give everything to Him, and focus our attention on Him from now on? Let us all be thankful for how beloved and cared we have been by God, all these while, and how He has always watched over us without cease. God Who has given us even His own beloved Son, and offering His own Most Precious Body and Blood for our sake is truly a most wonderful and magnificent Lord and Master. Let us all commit ourselves to the Lord and to His will and commandments, doing our very best in our every moments in life to be exemplary in all things so that we may inspire many others to follow the Lord as well.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us in faith, that we may be ever more courageous in embracing our Lord with ever greater love and devotion. May we all walk in God’s path and strive for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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