Gospel Reflection August 2 – Msgr. Hendricks
Sunday, August 2
Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
Matthew 14: 13-21
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
One of the lines in the gospel that is sometimes overlooked or not really heard by the listener, is that first verse from today that reads, “When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself.”(Matthew 14:13)
John the Baptist and Jesus were cousins. When Mary went to visit his aunt Elizabeth, upon entering the house, the gospel tells us that John the Baptist whom Elizabeth was carrying in her womb, leapt for joy, as he recognized the Savior in the womb of Mary. Later it is John who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, and calls out that Jesus is the Lamb of God. John goes on to say that he is not worthy to untie the sandals of the foot of Jesus.
The two intersect time and again in the gospel and although John preaches a baptism of Repentance, it is Jesus who brings the fire of the Holy Spirit forward at Pentecost.
It is not surprising then that Jesus is shaken when he learns of the death of his cousin and the one who had become so influential in His life. Afterall, it is John who Jesus calls the greatest of the prophets.
After the murder of John by Herod due to the jealously of his wife, Jesus faces the question of what comes next for him. Does he retreat, give up his mission, or simply ignores the warning of the Roman appointed King Herod?
I think that the death of John, and the warning to Jesus that this would also happen to him emboldens Jesus to move forward very publicly with his caring and healing of others. Jesus is reaffirmed in his convictions that God is alive with Him and he is doing rightly the will of the Father.
The lesson for us? Do the same. In spite of hardships and troubles, roadblocks and threats, we should become more emboldened in our commitment to Jesus and the Church and live as He lived in hope and in confidence.