Numbers 11:4-15
Matthew 14: 13-21


There’s a lot of food on the menu for today’s Eucharist.

Today’s liturgy links the journey away from enslavement in Egypt to the nourishing presence of Jesus in the lives of those who come to hear from him and receive his word of hope.

The book of Numbers looks in on the journey of those who, at God’s hand, have escaped from all that crushed and lessened their lives in Egypt.  

As they, the people of the promise, the receivers of liberation, journey through the desert, they start to complain. They don’t look forward; they look back. They remember all the things they had when they were captives. They remember the fish they used to eat free in Egypt…Their mouths start to water as they remember the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onion, garlic – variety! Sounds like the ingredients of a very modern meal.  Here we are left with only manna to satisfy our hunger. Pancakes every day no longer filled them with delight. So, when in doubt, complain! And the people complain to their leader Moses, who hears the people wailing, complaining every day. Whoever said the journey into freedom and new life would be easy or a simple matter? And Moses complains to God.

Fast forward to Jesus. As we prepare to hear his word, we sing Alleluia, alleluia! No one lives on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Alleluia. 

Jesus has just learned that John the Baptiser has been murdered, so he heads for solitude to come to terms with the loss and the news. But the people come after him and find him. Jesus talks with them all day rather than sit in his own grief. At the end of the day, his disciples remind him that it is a lonely place, so send the people away to go and find food. “Feed them yourselves,” says Jesus. Maybe he says the same to us today when faced with people’s needs and limited resources.  “All we have is five loaves and two fish. Bring them to me.” So, Jesus blesses our pathetically small resources, and they keep stretching to meet the need and quieten our tendency to catastrophise that we never have enough! 

Such is our journey of life that is always made in the presence of the great Liberator and our great Lover. Can I keep looking forward and not just retreat into the past?

Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.