Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Memorial of Saint Nicholas († 343) whose relics are in Bari. He was a bishop in Asia Minor (present day Turkey) and is venerated throughout East.


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

"Jesus, returning to Galilee, climbs once more up the mountain." It was probably a high place on the north-eastern side of the lake, which the people could easily reach, even carrying sick people for Jesus to heal. That high place, which reveals the unique intimacy of the Son and the Father, is transformed into a sort of sanctuary where the sick, the poor, and the lame can be brought to be welcomed and healed. Indeed, Jesus begins to heal the sick and speak to all. The text suggests that this continues for three straight days, almost without a break. The choice of these people, who stayed with Jesus despite the discomfort is compared with our laziness, and our distraction in front of the Word of God. That crowd had spent three entire days listening to Jesus. At the end, it is Jesus who is moved and decides that after having nourished them with the bread of the Word, he wanted now to feed them with physical bread, as if to underline that Jesus is concerned about our whole life, the life of the heart and of the body. The disciples reveal their insensitivity to the crowd's situation. They are not thinking about their need for nourishment. And when Jesus points it out to them, they cannot do anything other than show their resignation: there is nothing that can be done. Jesus, who is never resigned, invites them to look for bread among the people. It is the second time that this miracle is narrated. And it occurs in a pagan region - the periphery, we could say - to show that everyone is waiting for nourishment from Jesus. Obeying Jesus' command, the disciples find seven loaves of bread. Unlike the account of the first multiplication, the number of loaves is seven, like the seven baskets that later will gather up what remains. Seven represents completeness. That is to say that his is not just almsgiving, but true nourishment. This is the responsibility that Jesus entrusts to the Church, to his disciples. It is not by change that seven deacons will be chosen to carry out the service at the table. Jesus takes those seven loaves and multiples them for the four thousand people who are present. It is a miracle born from an impassionate love for that tired and hungry crowd. This gospel passage is an invitation for us to feel Jesus' same compassion for the weak and the poor so that we too can take part in the miracle of the multiplication of love.