Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jul 25, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern


  • Isaiah 55:1-3
  • Romans 8:35, 37-39
  • Matthew 14:13-21

July 31, 2011



Isaiah 55:1-3

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Matthew 14:13-21



July 31: Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits

August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration

August 6: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima in 1945

August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1945



If the international community is to be truly “united” against hunger, then poverty must be overcome through authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul and spirit. Today, though, there is a tendency to limit the vision of development to one that satisfies the material needs of the person, especially through access to technology; yet authentic development is not simply a function of what a person “has”, it must also embrace higher values of fraternity, solidarity and the common good.

Benedict XVI, Message for World Food Day, October 15m 2010


“If you are coming to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you are coming because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

--Australian aboriginal woman


Our Lord asks but two things of us; Love for [God] and for our neighbor. We cannot know whether we love God but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbor or not.

- Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle


For not only do people need food, but they need also the touch of a hand, the sound of a voice. For food lasts but a day, but love is for always.

- Mother Teresa


“You should be careful to help prisoners and visit the prisons if you can, …. Do not forget the hospitals.”

Ignatius of Loyola, Letter to Jean Pelletier on Ministering to the Neighbor


“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall—think of it, always!”

Mahatma Gandhi


Respect for human dignity and belief in the equal dignity of all the members of the human family demand policies aimed at enabling all peoples to have access to the means required to improve their lives, including the technological means and skills needed for development. Respect for nature by everyone, a policy of openness to immigrants, the cancellation or significant reduction of the debt of poorer nations, the promotion of peace through dialogue and negotiation, the primacy of the rule of law: these are the priorities which the leaders of the developed nations cannot disregard. A global world is essentially a world of solidarity!

John Paul II, Audience with President Bush, July 23, 2002


Thoughts for your consideration


The scriptures today are about food and the sharing of food.

Isaiah reminds us of the abundance of food – all as a gift from God.

In the midst of their need, Jesus leads the disciples and the people in an unexpected and wonderful sharing of abundance. In this sharing, God is encountered. “Eucharist” is experienced.


This spirit of abundance and sharing is a challenge to the greed, selfishness and profit seeking which dominate parts of our culture. The spirit behind the gospel challenges us and challenges the worst parts of our “capitalistic way of doing things.” The gospel of Jesus values the good of people over the value of capital. Food and water are more than just products to be bought and sold.


The gospel is about more than just giving out food. Jesus does more than just “magically” create food. He calls a community into life. He calls the disciples into reflection and action on their situation in solidarity with everyone who is gathered. On behalf of the community, Jesus expresses gratitude and faith in God. He gets people to sit down and share. Food is passed from person to person. Everyone partakes of the abundance. Everyone has enough to eat. Instead of the hoarding of the leftovers, the people gather up what remains.


Our gospel is a gospel of solidarity and empowerment. We are called to put this gospel into practice by creating a community of charity and justice for all.


In the last year food prices have gone up all over the world, especially in places where people are the poorest. Not everyone is getting enough to eat. What would Jesus do in that situation? What would Jesus call us to do in our global situation?


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group


When have you had a powerful experience of sharing food with others?

What made it so powerful for you?



In the last four years food prices have gone up all over the world, especially in places where people are the poorest. Not everyone is getting enough to eat. Not everyone can afford enough food. What would Jesus do in that situation? What would Jesus call us to do in our global situation?




Have you ever had an experience of working at a food program or soup kitchen or food pantry?

What happened? What happened beyond the giving out of food?

What did you learn?

Was there a spirit of respect and community beyond the giving out of food?


Actions - Links


Women and Hunger: 10 Facts

Find this informative listing from the World Food Program, WFP, which is the food aid arm of the United Nations system.


Bread for the World

Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad. On their site is lots of info about hunger in the United States and around the world. There are also suggestions for writing to congress. Look at their fact sheet on the link between maternal and child health.


Somalia and the Horn of Africa

Pope Benedict speaks of Global relief for victims of drought in Africa.

I follow with deep concern the news from the Horn of Africa, particularly Somalia, stricken by a severe drought and then, in some areas, also by heavy rains



“Crazy Facts”


Women make up a little over half of the world's population but in many parts of the world, especially in Asia and South America, they are more likely to go hungry than men. (Source: Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, FAO, March 2011)


Around the world “925 million people are hungry. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That's one child every five seconds. There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005. The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty. … In 2008, nearly 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthday. One third of these deaths are due directly or indirectly to hunger and malnutrition.”



Story: Stone Soup


There are many versions of this story about sharing food and community. One version can be found at

See also the Wikipedia article at
Prayers of Intercession


Response: O God, guide us on the way of peace and justice for all.

For those in our world who are suffering from hunger, we pray....

For farmers, especially those who don't have land and other inputs to grow their food, we pray....

For women who seem to be especially impacted by the economic injustice of our world, we pray….

For the children of our world who do not have what they need to grow to health adulthood, we pray…

For refugees, especially those who cannot find a safe place to live, we pray....

For all those who are fleeing violence, we pray....

For all those caught up in the many wars waging in our world, we pray....

For those who are discouraged by politics and disputes of all sorts, we pray....


Prayer – Meditation

Adopted from "A Cry for Mercy," by Henri J.M. Nouwen

O God, you came to bring peace, to offer reconciliation, to heal the separation between people, and to show how it is possible for men and women to overcome their differences and to celebrate their unity. You revealed your God as a God of all people, a God without resentments or desires for revenge, a God who cares for each one of his children with an infinite love and mercy and who does not hesitate to invite them into his own house.

But our world today does not look like a world that knows you. Our nations are torn by chaos, hatred, violence, and war. In many places, death rules.

O God, do not forget the world into which you came to save your people; do not turn your back on your children who desire to live in harmony but who are constantly entangled in fear, anger, lust, violence, greed, suspicion, jealousy, and hunger for power. Bring your peace to this world, a peace we cannot make ourselves. Awaken the consciousness of all peoples and their leaders; raise up men and women full of love and generosity who can speak and act for peace, and show us new ways in which hatred can be left behind, wounds can be healed, and unity restored.

O God, come to our assistance. O God, make haste to help us. Amen.



God our Father,

in the name of him

who gave bread to the hungry,

we remember all

who through our human ignorance,

folly, and sin

are condemned to live in want.

Show us, who have so much,

what we can do

to help those who have so little;

and bless the efforts of those

who work to overcome poverty and hunger,

that sufficient food may be found for all;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.



--From the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland, St. Andrew Press.

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