Lectionary Reflections: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a] August 3, 2014

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jul 28, 2014

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

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time [a]

August 3, 2014

Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern


Isaiah 55:1-3

Romans 8:35, 37-39

Matthew 14:13-21



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 15, 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 no.

- 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 Detroit, water service has been cut off from various people. In the United States 3.9 million households were unable at times during 2012 to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children   Not everyone is getting enough to eat and enough to drink. According to the World Food Program, 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat and the vast majority of hungry people (827 million) live in developing countries, where 14.3 percent of the population is undernourished.  What would Jesus do in this 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?


  • 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?


Stone Soup: An Old Folk Tale

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

See also the Wikipedia article at:


“Crazy Facts”

The World Food Programme writes: “Every year, authors, journalists, teachers, researchers, schoolchildren and students ask us for statistics about hunger and malnutrition. To help answer these questions, we've compiled a list of useful facts and figures on world hunger.”

  • 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. This number has fallen by 17 percent since 1990.
  • The vast majority of hungry people (827 million) live in developing countries, where 14.3 percent of the population is undernourished.
  • Asia has the largest number of hungry people (over 500 million) but Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence (24.8 percent of population).
  • If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.
  • One out of six children—roughly 100 million—in developing countries is underweight.
  • One in four of the world's children are stunted. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.
  • 80 percent of the world's stunted children live in just 20 countries.
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
  • WFP calculates that US $3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children. 

Actions - Links

Jesuit Conference Post on Unaccompanied Minors

Who will hold the U.S. accountable for a rush to deport the most vulnerable?

By: Shaina Aber, Policy Director, U.S. Jesuit Conference Social & International Ministries

Jesuit Conference Urges Congress to Raise Minimum Wage

Take action at:

United Farm Workers

Speak Out to Protect Farmworkers from Pesticides by Aug. 18th:

Pax Christi USA on Gaza

Read the Pax Christi USA official statement on the violence in the Middle East:


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

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.

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


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



Download the world hunger map at:

See an artist’s image of hunger at: