Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memorial of Saint John Damascene, priest and Doctor of the Church who lived in Damascus in the eighth century. Prayer for Christians in Syria

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 15, 29-37

Jesus went on from there and reached the shores of the Lake of Galilee, and he went up onto the mountain. He took his seat,

and large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them.

The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.

But Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 'I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them off hungry, or they might collapse on the way.'

The disciples said to him, 'Where in a deserted place could we get sufficient bread for such a large crowd to have enough to eat?'

Jesus said to them, 'How many loaves have you?' They said, 'Seven, and a few small fish.'

Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground,

and he took the seven loaves and the fish, and after giving thanks he broke them and began handing them to the disciples, who gave them to the crowds.

They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This Gospel passage brings us close to Jesus who, returning to Galilee, climbs once more up the mountain: “Jesus had left that place, he passed along the Sea of Galilee, and he went up the mountain.” Biblical tradition tells us that a mountain represents a privileged place, where one often meets the Lord. The evangelist Matthew tries to show how much Jesus’ mission is connected with the Father in heaven. All of Jesus’ acts of love, compassion, healing, and salvation spring from the Father. This high mountain is Jesus himself, and it is from him that emanates a divine power. Because of this, he himself becomes a sanctuary, that is, the place where God renders himself present and to whom the sick, poor, and lame want to come in order to be healed. And as the evangelist notes, Jesus heals them. Everyone was amazed by his work of healing. For three days, the crowd continued to hear him speak. What a contrast to our laziness and distraction when we hear the Word of God! Matthew writes that at the end of the three days, Jesus feels compassion for the crowd. Indeed, after having nourished them with the bread of his Word, he wanted now to feed them with bread for their bodies. Jesus takes to heart our entire life, both spiritual and physical. Unfortunately today, we are prey to a culture of materialism, which is like a subtle dictatorship. We concentrate on material things, that which we touch and see and what satisfies our desires, but we forget the spiritual dimension and make God and things of the spirit lesser priorities. This way of operating leads only to a hardening of heart and mind; that is, we fail to understand and be compassionate. This is what happened in the case of the disciples: they did not understand that the crowd also needed something to eat. And when Jesus says to them that he does not want to send them away hungry, the disciples know none other than their resignation: there’s nothing they can do. Besides, how can they find enough to feed this crowd in a deserted place? Even we would have answered as they did. Yet Jesus is not resigned, for he knows that nothing is impossible for God. He has the seven loaves and the few fish that were brought over, and after having “given thanks” - that is, after having prayed - he multiplies them enough to feed everyone. The miracle is performed: all are sated. This Gospel passage is a pressing invitation for all believers so that they feel Jesus’ same compassion for the weak and the poor, and live with the same certainty that nothing is impossible for God. Faith is able to multiply even the little and poor things that we have as far as we lay them in Jesus’ hands.