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quod pro nobis traditum est

Sunday, July 04, 2010

He is satisfied in giving this food to us . . .

Homily for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 6:3-11; St. Mark 8:1-9

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

On a weekend like this one with large crowds and much food we might contrast what it was like in this morning’s Gospel reading where Jesus was teaching a large crowd and the people had been with him three days. This time however there was no food to eat. Through His teaching Jesus had been providing the people with what they needed, the Word of God. This is why they stayed listening to Him for such a long time. They trusted Him, even to the point of fasting, rather than leave and get food. Neither does Jesus hesitate in teaching them. He is the Teacher and He has words for them that are, as the Apostle Peter said, words of eternal life. There is a good relationship here. The people gladly hear Jesus’ teaching and Jesus teaches what God has sent Him to teach. Jesus is satisfied that the people have received His teaching for He now thinks to send them away. He does not send them away to send them away. Here Jesus has compassion on the crowd. He knows that not all might make it home if He sends them away without something to eat so He checks with His disciples to see what food there is available.

We are reminded here of the words of the psalmist in the Introit, “The Lord is the strength of His people.” Not only does the Lord give us His Word, His teaching to sustain us for the life of our souls, He feeds us with the food that sustains us in this life. Without food we are not able to gladly hear and learn God’s Word. Without God’s Word we are left hungry, lacking righteousness, never reaching the kingdom of God. Without the Lord’s strength we are left to die in our sin and we would never make it home. Jesus’ teaching and that of the Apostles and even to this day in the Church is that of repentance into the forgiveness of sins. God turns His anger away from our sin and shows His compassion, so turning us away from our sin and toward Christ crucified, whose death on the cross is our judgment and God’s ultimate sacrifice of compassion. Jesus’ teaching is given flesh in His compassion for the hungry multitude and in His giving His life for the life of the world. In faith we say Jesus is “for us.” In His compassion He leads us to love Him and our neighbor. Jesus is the incarnation of God’s mercy that does not end with His death on the cross. After His Resurrection and before He left them Jesus sent His Apostles, the “sent ones,” to continue on with the same work that He was sent to do. This work is that of preaching the Gospel, of baptizing, of absolving and of feeding the baptized believers, members of the one holy catholic and apostolic church with His food, the Holy Supper. But these are not simply tasks that the Lord gives the Church. They are means by which He satisfies His people so that they may be united with Him and with one another in the forgiveness of sins and be sent to their homes and daily lives satisfied and living in the one true faith, that is life with God in Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth, to those who believe and were baptized, saying, “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30) The Apostle argues that it is Christ Jesus who fully satisfies, even to salvation.

This salvation is best received in the Church at the altar where baptized believers receive the Lord Himself. We come to Him weak and weary from hunger and thirst, seeking His mercy and forgiveness. He satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness as we proclaim His death until He comes again. As Jesus “gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples” to set the blessed food before the multitude so He blesses the bread and wine, that are His very Body and Blood. This blessed food is food that satisfies for it is the Lord Himself. He is satisfied in giving this food to us and satisfied enough to send us away from each Mass in His peace. He fosters what is good and guards what is fostered in us. That is why we do not find it hard to come back to Him daily saying, “Return, O Lord, a little and be entreated in favour of Thy servants.”

Today our country celebrates independence. We who are set aside by God in His love to be His own in Baptism also celebrate the hard-won freedom to worship, hearing His holy Word and receiving His blessed Sacraments. This is food from the One who frees us from sin. This food at the altar is that which helps us to see beyond God’s gifts of country and government which we enjoy now to the eternal life we have with Him through Jesus Christ our Lord. “The Lord is the strength of His people.” Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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