Come, Listen, Live
(18th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 55:1-3; Romans 8:35-39; Matthew 14:13-21)
“Come, without paying and without cost,” says Isaiah as he promises an abundance of food and drink. What could be more appealing?
At La Salette, abundance is also promised—heaps of wheat and self-sown potatoes—on one condition: conversion. We prefer Isaiah.
But they are not different at all. Reading a few lines further in Isaiah, we find: “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.” The prophet envisions a people that lives by God’s word. He is issuing a call to conversion, and states it more explicitly just a few verses after this reading: “Let the wicked forsake their way, and sinners their thoughts; let them turn to the Lord to find mercy.”
In the Gospel we find Isaiah’s vision fulfilled. People from many towns came to listen to Jesus. When his disciples suggested that the crowd be dismissed so they could buy food, he fed them without paying and without cost.
Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples to distribute. This is not yet the Last Supper, but the connection is obvious.
It is not surprising, therefore, that we find the Sunday Eucharist mentioned by Our Lady at La Salette. It is where her people can encounter her Son, be fed by him, and find strength for their journey.
As individuals, communities and nations, it is inevitable that we will encounter crises and tragedies such as those listed by St. Paul in the second reading.
Today’s entrance antiphon reflects such a time of trouble: “O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me! You are my rescuer, my help; O Lord, do not delay” (Ps. 70). The Beautiful Lady found no such attitude among her people. Instead of crying out to God, they blasphemed his name.
When we pray to the Lord from our heart, “You are my rescuer,” we trust that no force outside of ourselves will be able to separate us from the love of Christ. May he preserve us from ever turning away from him.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.