Eighteenth Sunday of the Year
“One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” is the Gospel verse for this Sunday. I believe this and yet, knowing Maslow’s laws of our human needs, I struggle. I struggle with our sisters and brothers throughout our world who have nothing to eat and not even water to drink — because of war and racial/tribal/cultural and fiscal strife. Right and might seems to reign over both/and there is enough for all of us.
The prophet Isaiah speaks the words of a God who loves and cares for each and all of us with unconditional love and patient care in Chapter 55: “You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!” One memory I hold dear is getting to prepare and serve meals in our local soup kitchen in the old Marian House. I relished this time on the first and third Thursday of the month with like-minded women and men of different faith traditions in the city. This experience was miniscule compared to so many relief organizations in our local community and throughout the world, and yet it helped me be part of God’s unconditional love and care for those who are less fortunate than I.
On a lighter note, when I spent time with Matthew’s Gospel account of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, I chuckled as I remembered one Sunday afternoon when Sister Susan and I were the cooking crew for one of our Community’s Sunday evening meal. We were cooking for forty-five sisters and all of a sudden the number increased to sixty-five (perhaps some unexpected guests). We cut the chicken into smaller portions and added a few surprise extras with a little bit of creativity. We didn’t have the power of Jesus to multiply and yet we trusted that there would be enough. And yes! There was!
In the Dialogues of Gregory ( Chapter 21) St. Gregory tells the story of how Benedict’s monastery, responding to the needs of the suffering people in Campania, gave away the entire grain supply and nearly all the bread. (This was possibly the great famine of 537-38) The monks were downcast as they approached the evening meal with only five loaves of bread. Benedict comforted them: “What if today there is only a little? Tomorrow you will have more than you need.” The next day about thirty hundred weights of flour were found in sacks at the gate of the monastery. Could you and I possibly have that kind of faith?
Anne Stedman, OSB