homily – August 3

Matthew 14:13-21

The very first words of today’s gospel set the scene of the gospel. Jesus has just heard the shocking news that His cousin, John the Baptist, had been murdered by Herod. He needed time and space to take all this in. He went with his friends to what He thought was a deserted place to grieve the death of this good man.

Things didn’t go as planned. When he got out of the boat He was confronted by a large crowd. These people had no idea of what Jesus was going through, probably they didn’t even care. They had their own problems and they needed Him.

We hear that Jesus had compassion on them, in other words, His heart went out to them. Forgetting His own feelings of loss, His own need for peace and quiet, He reached out to these needy men, women and children. His listened to their sad stories, He spoke to them of God’s love and proved that love as He cured those sick in mind and body. At the end of the day He took what little food He had and shared it with them, encouraging them to share with others the food they had with them.

There can be times in our lives when we are convinced God really doesn’t have time for us, that we really are not that important. Maybe we feel God has a grudge against us because of our past neglect of Him. We are convinced God knows we only come to Him when we are in trouble or want something, otherwise we seldom think of God. Or we’re sure that God resents us because of our past sins.

So often when we let such feelings color our ways of thinking about God what we are really doing is projecting our ways of thinking and relating to others unto God. We imagine God treats us the way we treat others. We imagine God is at tightfisted with His love and His forgiveness as we are with ours. We forget that we are cursed with memories while God is blessed with amnesia. It has been said that in the beginning God made us in God’s image and likeness and ever since we have been making God in our image and likeness and that’s why our God is too small. Our small God cannot grasp our true God.

If we want a good image of God’s love for us we can imagine a tsunami. Remember those TV images of that tsunami that hit Indonesia, a gigantic wall of water sweeping up everything in its path? This is a perfect image of God’s love for us, an eternal, unstoppable surge of love that sweeps up and carries along everything in its path – never in a destructive way but in a loving, life giving way.

It was that tsunami of love that gave Jesus the patience and the strength to put aside his own need for a time to grieve over John the Baptist, a time for peace and quiet and to empathize with the needs of the people who came looking for Him. It was that tsunami of love that washed Jesus up on Calvary, where in his final act of love, He died for us.

Last week’s gospel told the parable of the pearl of great price. Can we imagine ourselves as that pearl, a pearl Christ finds and gives up all that He has, His every life, to purchase us?

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for the grace to appreciate the powerful words of St. Paul in our second reading – I am convinced that neither death nor life, no angel, no rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation – including or faults and failing, we ever separate us from the love God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord, Who loved us and gave His life for us – pearls of great price.