2020-08-02 _ 18th Sunday ● Isaiah 55:1-3 ● Psalm 145 ● Romans 8:35, 37-39 ● + Matthew 14:13-21 ●
[_01_] This is the Gospel of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.
Given that that this is the multiplication – multiplying – I’d like to touch on 4 aspects of being in church – or praying – that lead up to this calling to us to be multiplied.
For it is not just the loaves and fishes that are multiplied, because the multiplication is a precursor to the sacrifice of Jesus’ Body and Blood on Calvary. And, we – receiving his Body and Blood – are multiplying his presence …multiplying his presence in our own homes, in our own school, in our own family.
Our Savior has this goal for all of us to be multiplied I’d like to touch on in this in 4 parts, as the 4 parts of going to Mass.
[_02_] Part. 1. ADDITION.
“Addition” or 1 + 1 = 2, helps us to understand multiplication.
And, what happens at the beginning of Mass or even before we come to Mass – there is some addition – or adding – going on..
That is, when you come to church –to Sunday Mass – or even when you pray at home as part of our parish family – you are consciously choosing to add yourself to the assembly, to the community.
These days, this adding or “addition” is more complicated because we are supposed to register for Sunday Mass.
There’s even a headcount limit. I.e., we cannot have more than 100 people inside the church building.
I assure you, we will keep you safe and we are not yet near the 100 person limit.
In any case, coming to Mass to prayer, is often a conscious effort to pray and to add our prayer to an already busy schedule.
[_03_] That is, that’s how we logically look at the task of praying. But, Jesus wants us to do the ADDITION a different way. That is, rather than adding our prayer to our To-Do list or daily schedule… rather… add our To-Do list or daily schedule to our prayer.
Make Mass and prayer the center and priority of our day.
St. Paul summarizes this,saying “Pray constantly, pray unceasingly.”
Jesus touches on this in the encounter at home with Mary and Martha, reminding us that Mary has made Jesus’ Word her priority and focus and works everything in around that. For Martha, it seems to be the other way around.
The better part – Mary’s part – is to put add the prayer as the first agenda item.
Coming to Mass, nevertheless, you are added to our number. You count and our lives are connected, not only physically but spiritually.
And, even if you participate from home, you are added to our number.
Jesus wants to add you here.
[_04_] Part 2. SUBTRACTION.
Subtraction helps us to get to multiplication. What is subtraction? 7 -2 = 5.
Coming to pray or putting ourselves in God’s presence involves some subtracting or minimizing.
This doesn’t mean God or the Church wants to diminish you or seize anything from you, but we are all called to take step back to allow God to work in our lives, to cooperate.
We are called to subtract in order to cooperate with anybody.
For example, recently, I was moving a desk down the stairs with my brother. We were moving it together. The desk was not super heavy. Part of the trick of moving a large object is to allow the weight to be distributed to be shared. I.e., do not try to lift it all by yourself. Subtract your own effort a bit, allow the person to add some effort. That’s a healthy subtraction.
John the Baptist also summarizes this, saying of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Subtraction is Good News.
And, at Sunday Mass, I suggest that when we are attentive to readings and Gospel, we are trying to allow God’s ideas and God’s love to replace some of our own plans.
We need SUBTRACTION in order to see this.
[_05_] Part 3. DIVISION.
Division helps us to understand multiplication.
In the Gospel parable this Sunday, we see that the solution and salvation was in the loaves and fishes.
But, before there was multiplication, there was a problem of division.
I.e., the disciples were “divided” and disagreeing with Jesus about how to feed the crowd.
What the disciples see – visually and naturally – are 5 loaves and 2 fishes, a quantity way too small to be divided and shared among so many.
The disciples wished to dismiss the crowd, to disperse them, to divide them.
Let them order on Instacart or GrubHub or stop at the supermarket on the way home.
[_06_] We may have a similar attitude when we think of relationships in our life in which there are cracks or stress fractures or fault lines – i.e., “divisions.”
We may meditate on these precisely when we are in church or in quiet. We may wonder how to heal them, if they can be healed, is there anything we can do?
Sometimes, it’s long division!
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if our prayer or receiving of Communion reminds us of “division” with a brother or sister…in other words, if we are at the altar and remember that our brother or sister has something against, us, go first and be reconciled with this person, then return to the altar.
We all have divisions that we may want to run from or avoid.
And, for this…I suggest the solution is the multiplication…
[_07_] For, by this miracle, Jesus is not simply saying he is going to multiply loaves and fishes, but he’s also going to multiply the compassion you bring to others, the forgiveness your bring, the hope and energy you bring…no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is.
Jesus is going to multiply what we bring.
Jesus is going to multiply the host and body and blood, multiplied so that it will nourish not only you but those whom you know and see…nourish even those you do not yet know.
It starts by ADDING ourselves to God’s presence, SUBTRACTING our own ego so that God may work… recognizing DIVISIONS and SINFUL FAULTS that need healing and allowing Jesus to multiply his presence in us and in our world.[_fin_]