I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace . . .
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Who is hungry? This is what my mother would ask before gathering our family together for a meal. Then, she would ask us all to sit and eat as the meal is served. The Scripture for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time asks us the same question, “Who is hungry?” and through the prophet, Elisha, and St. Paul and Jesus, we receive the revelation of the gift of life: sustenance through God, for God. In these Scriptures, God feeds us, asks us to feed each other, and we acknowledge our desire to be fed.
Are you hungry? Pope Francis said, “Besides physical hunger, man experiences another hunger, a hunger that cannot be satiated with ordinary food. It’s a hunger for life, a hunger for love, a hunger for eternity. Jesus gives us this food . . . The Eucharist communicates the Lord’s love for us: a love so great that it nourishes us with Himself; a freely given love, always available to every person who hungers and needs to regenerate his own strength. To live the experience of faith means to allow oneself to be nourished by the Lord and to build one’s own existence not with material goods but with the reality that does not perish: the gifts of God, his Word and his Body.”
Where do you want to eat? For some, choosing a place to eat—a favorite restaurant—is commonplace. Where is the best source of food located? It is found during the celebration of Mass. Yet, choosing to participate in the celebration of Mass to satiate our soul through the Eucharist may unfortunately be a last priority or not on our ‘list’. St. Paul tells us that the call which we have received; to follow Christ, is strengthened through the food which Christ gives us. It is only when we eat this food that we may bear one another through God’s love and to seek unity with one another. Pope Francis admonishes, “And let us learn to recognize the false bread that deceives and corrupts, because it comes from selfishness, from self-reliance and from sin.”
Will we have enough? Elisha says there will be plenty of food, God’s holy love, left over. Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes and there were twelve baskets left over. Through the Eucharist, God’s love increases throughout the earth . . . there is plenty for everyone.
What do we do with the left-overs? What Christ has left for us, His holy love, guides us through our journey of forgiveness; consoling, animating and strengthening us in our difficulties. We preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace when we partake in the Eucharist. We share this love as we love one another: we form our family in faith, teaching them about God, leading them to participate in the celebration of Mass; we serve the poor by feeding them, contributing to Catholic Charities of Central Florida; we visit the imprisoned, the homebound who are no longer able to visit others, the prisoners whose faith is not locked down, even though their physical bodies may be; we pray for our leaders that they keep sight of God’s people as they discern governance, we study the Church’s teaching to vote faithfully during elections; we offer a hug or handshake or smile to the lowly; we welcome refugees and accompany them in their new world. The Eucharist challenges us to be good—to be grace-filled stewards of God’s creation.
Jesus, defend us from the temptation of worldly food which enslaves us, tainted food; purify our memory, so it isn’t imprisoned in selfish and worldly selectivity, but that it may be a living memory of your presence throughout the history of your people, a memory that makes a “monument” of your gesture of redeeming love. Amen.