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Reflection on the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on August 2, 2020, by Eleanor Craig SL

Isaiah 55: 1-3           Ps 145                   Romans 8: 35-39                   Mt 14: 13-21


In today’s liturgy all the readings have the same simple message: Love permeates the world. God loves all of us and will not let us down. We have nothing to fear. 

This good news comes just in time to strengthen us in these critical days for our Community, our state, our nation, our world.  This is the good news that John Lewis heard, that Mary Fran Lottes heard, that so many doers of good have heard.

Isaiah opens the chorus of encouragement with a clear strong voice, proclaiming that all the most basic, most necessary good is offered to everyone by God, overflowing, unconditional, without cost. God promises this with abiding and everlasting love. We have nothing to fear.

 Paul continues this theme of abundant, encompassing love as he proclaims almost lyrically that nothing can come between us and God’s love. There is no trouble on earth that can undo us; no turmoil between humans that can upset our security; not even death itself can threaten our safety in the love of God. There is nothing we need fear.

The Gospel drama opens on a dark note with the news of John’s beheading, with its clear implication that Jesus’ own trial, suffering and death will be next. Perhaps Jesus went off by himself to pray for divine direction and courage, to immerse himself in the cloak of divine love.  Too soon the crowds caught up with him. The scene is the first of two multiplications in Matthew’s Gospel, each with the same verses and the same refrain: Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for the people; he spent the day curing their sick. At eventide the disciples urged that the crowd be sent away because there was very little food at hand. Jesus instead shared the little food with all, and everyone was satisfied … with plenty left over.

All three of today’s readings together ring out the good news that we have nothing to fear. Are we overwhelmed with the hunger, homelessness, broken families and lost souls all around us? Today’s readings encourage us to rest in the certainty that God’s love hovers over all, illuminating small ways that we can help and giving us courage. Are we troubled, agitated by the 24-hour news cycle of sickness, disease, street violence and broken bodies? With our eyes on Christ, and confident and secure in the love of God, we are becoming instruments for wholeness, wellness and life in our times. Does it seem there is not enough for all, that some must be sent away so others can have what they need? Like Jesus, we live to proclaim that God’s love blesses and breaks and multiplies our small, simple gifts so that all can be satisfied.    

We are called to put aside our fears, discouragement, anxieties and doubts and live fully in the love of God.  If doubt continues to drag at our feet, let us walk together to this altar, share together our small portion of the bread of life, and take courage. We are united in God’s infinite care for the healing of our world. In a world of God’s plentiful love, there is nothing we need fear. 

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Eleanor Craig SL

Eleanor has been a Sister of Loretto since 1963 and an educator since birth. She graduated from two of Loretto's best known St. Louis institutions, Nerinx Hall High School in 1960, and Webster University in 1967. She taught mathematics at Loretto in Kansas City, where her personal passion for adventure history inspired her to develop and lead treks along the historic Oregon Trail. From 1998 to 2010 she created an award-winning program of outdoor adventure along the Western trails for teens who are visually impaired. Eleanor claims to have conducted more wagon trains to the West than the Mountain Men! From 2012 to 2021, Eleanor led a talented staff of archivists and preservationists at the Loretto Heritage Center on the grounds of the Motherhouse. Now retired, she still serves in the Heritage Center as Loretto Community Historian.