All are welcome to God’s inclusive generosity

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Today’s readings invite us to reflect on God’s love for humanity. Both the first reading and the Gospel emphasize God’s care by using images of nourishment. As we hear these readings, we can find comfort in God’s love and use it as a way to model our interactions with one another.

You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat. (Is 55:1) 

Liturgical day
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Readings
Is 55:1-3; Ps 145; Rom 8:35-39; Mt 14:13-21
Prayer

In what ways can you work to be more welcoming and loving in your life? 

How can you promote openness in society? 

 

In the first reading, from Isaiah, the people of Judah, having experienced great suffering and exile, are called to an abundant feast. “Come to the water; receive grain and eat; drink wine and milk; delight in rich fare.” This passage is an invitation to restoration, welcoming all people to enjoy God’s generosity. The passage even insists that those without money come to the banquet, bringing together people of various economic statuses to share in the bounty that God provides.

Isaiah can inspire us to strengthen, repair and restore our relationships with one another by inviting everyone to the table. Many people, especially people of color, women and people living in poverty, often feel overlooked and unable to advance. It is incumbent upon all of us, especially those in positions of power and privilege, to work consciously to include all people, especially those who are marginalized and disenfranchised. This is not only to right the wrongs of the past or to check a diversity box, although those are important goals. It is equally important, however, to acknowledge the ability of all people to contribute meaningfully to society, modeling our invitation to others in light of God’s actions.

Today’s Gospel is another reminder of God’s inclusive generosity. We hear the popular miracle story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish to feed a large crowd. All the Gospels include a version of the miracle; Matthew and Mark even tell two versions of the story. Before multiplying the food, Jesus cures people who are sick because he is “moved with pity,” setting the tone for the story. Then, when the disciples attempt to disperse the crowd because food is scarce, Jesus instructs them to feed the people, and then he shows them how.

Looking to heaven, Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish, blesses them, breaks the loaves and gives the food to his followers, who share it with the crowds. This calls to mind the Last Supper, as Jesus’ actions here foreshadow the sacred feast (Mt 26:26-29). The power of Jesus’ act is illustrated by the overabundance that remains after everyone eats, 12 baskets of leftovers. The numbers in the story are symbolic: adding five and two equals seven, a number of perfection and completion; and 12 is a recurring biblical number, as in 12 apostles and 12 tribes of Israel.

The multiplication of the loaves and fish highlights Jesus’ compassion and interest in nourishing the crowds who are with him. Moreover, Jesus incorporates his followers, inviting them and teaching them to care for others, providing a model for how we should care for one another.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

These readings just before Christmas help us think about Jesus’ heritage, significance and important people in his family.
Jaime L. WatersNovember 19, 2020
These readings just before Christmas help us think about Jesus’ heritage, significance and important people in his family.
Jaime L. WatersNovember 19, 2020
Paul affirms the importance of critical thinking and discernment.
Jaime L. WatersNovember 19, 2020
These readings just before Christmas help us think about Jesus’ heritage, significance and important people in his family.
Jaime L. WatersNovember 19, 2020