18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“…those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.”
Today’s readings revolve around two central themes — the love of God and food. Both may have been considered as indispensable back in the day, but sadly, today’s culture of instant gratification and ‘easy come easy go’ mentality have coloured the minds and hearts of many Christians. We seek for God’s love but don’t know how to open up our hearts to receive it, often looking in the wrong places or allowing sin to block us from receiving His full measure of love.
When it comes to food, we are spoilt for choice with all manner of sustenance, but lack the perseverance and fortitude to seek out spiritual food. We want everything NOW and packaged in the way that is pleasing to us, forgetting that sometimes, God speaks to us in our trials and tribulations, by placing crosses on our shoulders so that we are in a state of submission and humility in order to better discern His voice.
In the first reading, the prophet proclaims, “Listen, listen to me and you will have good things to eat and rich food to enjoy.” But, brothers and sisters, with all the noise around us — easily available credit, offers galore and seemingly quick ‘get rich’ schemes — we get lured by materialism and end up spending unnecessarily on that which feeds our greed, our pride and our lust. And as we spiral downward deeper into sin, we focus on what fuels our desires — money. It is a well-known and often quoted phrase that man cannot serve two masters. He must choose between God or money.
In our disillusioned, and sometimes delusional states, we do not believe that God is the one who grants our desires. Instead, we lament that we are forgotten, unworthy, and discarded. Brothers and sisters, that could not be further from the truth; God will never discard us because “nothing can come between us and the love of Christ”. There is nothing on this earth, nothing created, that can be worth more than the love of God. How do we know this? All we have to do is to gaze at the crucifix and contemplate on Christ hanging there for us. What more do we need as proof that God loves us so much, that He sacrificed his only son so that we may be saved?
A God that is able to feed and nourish five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. A God that never runs out of love for us. A God that never allows anything to come in the way of showing us how much He loves us — even in this time of COVID-19, when it appears that the world is heading for another series of lockdowns. Acts of kindness, selflessness and sacrifice, priests who risk exposure to the virus to deliver communion, to bless and anoint the sick; and yes, to celebrate the eucharist with those fortunate few who ballot and wait patiently to book a seat in their parish on the weekend.
I was blessed to have been invited to share with a group last week on my experience on the Camino in 2016. As I recounted my experiences, I realised again how God had been by my side, nourishing me, guiding me and sustaining me as I prepared for the pilgrimage. And it wasn’t just on the trail that He appeared to me. It was from the moment I decided to make the journey of self-discovery a year earlier. He sent angels my way and filled my life with people and experiences which added to my awareness of my mission here on earth.
Brothers and sisters, our God is not a benign one. He is very much alive and kicking, always making sure we have food on our table and enough to be nourished each day as we journey here on earth. It is whether we decide we want to eat the meal we are served in gratitude, or grudgingly eat half of what is on our plate simply because we ‘don’t like the food’ that determines if we grow as healthy or malnourished Christians.
(Today’s Oxygen by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may you continue to feed and nourish us. Help us to discern what is good for us and teach us how to trust in your providence; that your love for us goes beyond the material and is the only sustenance we need in these trying times.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for the gift of your son for our salvation. We thank you for your generosity and your immense love for us.