Homily of August 2, 2020, 18th Sunday in ordinary time
My dear brothers and sisters, today the Lord passes from the parables that ‘he said’ to the parables that ‘he did’, the miracles that Saint John calls “signs”. And the "horizontal" signs have "vertical", spiritual meanings in relation to God. Whoever sees the signs and does not perceive the meaning, does not understand them, moreover, denies them: as one who has said that the Lord "did not multiply" the loaves and the fish, but made them lack to no one. Accordingly, the Lord came to solve the problem of hunger in the world. But "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
Today's Gospel from the Mass tells us: “Which when Jesus had heard, he retired from thence by boat, into a desert place apart, and the multitudes having heard of it, followed him on foot out of the cities. And he coming forth saw a great multitude, and had compassion on them, and healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying: This is a desert place, and the hour is now past: send away the multitudes, that going into the towns, they may buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said to them, They have no need to go: give you them to eat. They answered him: We have not here, but five loaves, and two fishes. He said to them: Bring them hither to me. And when he had commanded the multitudes to sit down upon the grass, he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. And they did all eat, and were filled. And they took up what remained, twelve full baskets of fragments. And the number of them that did eat, was five thousand men, besides women and children."(Mt 14,13-21).
Dear brothers, after the parables that Our Lord has said and that we have heard again these last Sundays, today the Church presents another - let's say - parable, that this time Jesus has done, the first multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, “a sign” as He calls this extraordinary miracle . A sign because it has a meaning, like parables. The miracles of Jesus, of a physical or material type, which correspond to many other much larger and more transcendent miracles, of a spiritual type. In this case we find in the Gospel of Saint John what corresponded to the multiplication of the loaves and the fish. Jesus explained it the following day, in Capernaum, when he first announced the Eucharist, the living Bread come down from Heaven, in which he had to multiply himself to give himself to us, so that whoever eats of Him does not die but has the Eternal life.
He said to the people: “Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.” (Jn 6,26-27).
Jesus passes, and asks us to pass, from the material things of life to the true spiritual or supernatural realities towards which they point, from the sign to the meaning, from the external wrapping to the internal content. But people, then as now, do not want to go from the horizontal to the vertical dimension that leads us to God, to our relationship with God. "What use is it to man to win the whole world, if he then loses his soul?" Of course, we all feel the force of gravity that has us stuck to the ground and draws us down, with all the real material needs of life, but man comes from God and must return to God in everything. For this reason, Saint John tells that “Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone" (Jn 6.15 ), imagine with what sad disappointment at all this misunderstanding. No, He has not come to solve social and welfare problems with a magic wand. He does not accept being proclaimed "the king of full bellies." He says: "Seek before all the Kingdom of God and His Justice (or Holiness) and everything else will be added to you." On the contrary, the man without faith seeks everything else and, separating him from God, from his true ultimate end (and from what should be the first intention), he makes everything end in himself and not only renders everything useless, but Let it be for your own harm.
Man's first need - loved by God with infinite wisdom and love - is eating, as is breathing. But could not God have made man live without having to eat or the whole process of digestion? Without a doubt, but He has wanted to give us - so to speak - the need with one hand, to have the joy of giving us with the other hand everything that satisfies the need and to give us with it and in that his Love. that quenches our thirst and allows us to live, but his Will in the water, it is not food that nourishes us, but his Will in food, and so in everything.
So Jesus, in teaching us to ask the Father to give us "our daily bread," what does He tell us to ask for? What bread do we need? Jesus has told us about the bread from Heaven, he teaches us to ask for three types of bread. Each bread comes from God, from the Father:
1st) the material bread and everything that by His will serves to sustain our life,
2nd) the living Bread that has come down from Heaven, which is Jesus alive in the Eucharist,
and 3rd) the third bread, that of Jesus Christ himself, of whom he said: "I have food that you do not know ... My food is to do the Will of Him who has sent me" (Jn 4,32-33). Without this third Bread, the other two, the material bread and the Eucharist itself, do not fulfill their purpose, they do not take advantage of us, they are useless. Each bread, like all good things, comes from Heaven, comes from the Father, to lead us to Him. But if we do not recognize it as bread from Heaven, but only as bread from the earth, it leads us to ourselves and to the land (and beneadth the earth… as God said to Adam: “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”, (Gen 3,19). Directly from the earth God has created our body, a prodigy of his Wisdom and his Love. It is not the earth that has formed us, the earth is not "mother", but God is our Creator and Father, with the desire that we may be His children, heavenly and not earthly children!
The sin of gluttony does not consist in feeling pleasure in what we eat, a pleasure that God has put in that with so much love, but rather that we make of that eating an end in itself, separating it from God, not for his glory but for our satisfaction. This tells us the importance of our intention. That is to desecrate a thing that, like everything that God has done, should be sacred and holy, an occasion to make "communion" with God, to unite ourselves with God.