Sunday Mass | 18th Sunday of the Year

Catholic Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr James Ralston O.M.I., recorded at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Durban, South Africa.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me! You are my rescuer, my help; O Lord, do not delay.

FIRST READING: Isaiah 55:1-3.


RESPONSE: You open your hand, Lord, and you satisfy us.

  1. The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures. ℟

  2. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. ℟

  3. The Lord is just in all his ways, and holy in all his deeds. The Lord is close to all who call him, who call on him in truth. ℟

SECOND READING: Romans 8:35, 37-39.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Alleluia, alleluia! Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Alleluia.

GOSPEL: Matthew 14:13-21.

SERMON : Fr James Ralston O.M.I

Sunday 18 A

The passage from the prophet Isaiah speaks of the generosity of God who offers drink without money and food without cost. To those who choose to listen there will be an abundance. The universal symbol of food and drink in abundance is linked deliberately to listening to God’s word, “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” The one who provides a bountiful table is the one who speaks the words of life. In John’s Gospel this connection is fully developed in the great discourse on the bread of life that follows his account of Jesus’ the feeding in the desert.

Matthew’s Gospel account, from which we read earlier, is of the feeding of the five thousand. The crowd simply arrived; they had come for the healing of their sick, but had come without the usual preparation and so they find themselves ‘lacking food’, one of the categories that St. Paul in his letter to the Romans lists of the misfortunes that can attend to those who follow the Lord. The miracle reveals that nothing can come between us and the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The crowd is fed generously, with more than they need, resulting in a large quantity of food remaining. (The twelve baskets’ full is symbolic of the large quantity.) The close of the Gospel passage is rather dismissive in some translations where it states, “to say nothing of the women and children.”

Actually a key in all of today’s readings could be said to be ‘nothing’, though not at all in the negative sense, but rather for the people of faith, a strong encouragement.

Isaiah’s fervent invitation is ‘come to the water’ and if you do come you do not need to bring anything. (Here one could say the saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch is overturned.) This is not just any water, this is the water of life and there is no charge, so you can come and bring absolutely nothing.

Jesus raises his eyes to heaven, takes the bread, says the blessing, breaks the bread and hands it out; the same fourfold sequence that happens every time the Eucharist is celebrated and God’s people are fed generously with the bread of life. Here Jesus presents food for nothing, totally without charge, but it comes out of nothing because Jesus had virtually nothing to start with, only five barley loaves and two small fish. With these he feeds 5,000 men, besides the women and children. The food is provided for nothing, from nothing.

While the section from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew point out the bounteousness of God, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans reminds us, who are like the hungry crowd, that given this great gift, ‘nothing can come between us and the love of God.’, Paul using nothing in a different sense.

We have the great tradition of the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist which St. Paul affirms as the ‘love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord’, a truly magnificent gift.

The reason why the Gospel is Good News is simple:

  1. Firstly; when we seek God we need to bring nothing but ourselves.

  2. Secondly; what we receive we get for nothing.

  3. Thirdly; nothing can separate us from the love of God.

COMMUNION ANTIPHON: You have given us, O Lord, bread from heaven, endowed with all delights and sweetness in every taste.


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