Gospel reading 8th Sunday Trinity and Reflection

Matthew 14:13-21

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ 

Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ They replied, ‘We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.’ And he said, ‘Bring them here to me.’ Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

 

Reflection from 26th July 2020

A number of people have asked for the text of Fr Christopher’s Reflection from last Sunday, based on Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. This is reproduced below.

“The Kingdom of heaven is like…” So says Jesus five times in today’s Gospel. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, the Kingdom of heaven is like yeast, it is like treasure hidden in a field, it is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, it is like a net cast into the sea”.  What are we to make of all this, how are we to understand the Kingdom of heaven. Surely it is important. After all don’t we pray regularly “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven”?

These descriptions or parables of the Kingdom of heaven are meant to unsettle us and to jolt us out of our complacency. They warn us that the Kingdom is not what we might expect. So what are we to make of the Kingdom of which these parables indirectly speak?

First, The Kingdom IS very important indeed, the Kingdom is vital. The Kingdom should be the most legitimate object of human desire, the goal of the most earnest passion and longing and seeking. As the hymn puts it “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you” And that seeking should be for the coming of the Kingdom not of our own personal entry into the Kingdom. It is not that we do good in order to gain entry but that we work for the Kingdom because that is what needs to be done. It is our primary task as disciples. And it is nothing less than self-forgetful charity which ushers in the Kingdom.

Secondly, the Kingdom of God is not what we think it is. It has its own rules – God’s rules. It is the state or place or condition where everything is done just as God wants it. It is a place of justice, love, peace and healing. Where truly God’s will is done as it is in heaven.

I don’t know if you are a fan of the TV series The Apprentice but try to imagine this scene: The contestants are in their two groups and Lord Sugar says to them “Your task today is very simple. I am sending you out into the streets of London to make a society which is governed by justice, mercy, truth and peace. There must be no poverty or prejudice, no meanness or backbiting. I don’t want any violence in this society. I don’t want any falsehood, or mockery, or malice. I don’t want people sitting around while others go hungry. I don’t want any police in this society. No magistrates, courts, probation officers. I just want it to be full of good people doing good things for each other. Loving their neighbours as themselves. That’s it. I’ll see you back in the boardroom in three days’ time. The winning team will have an eternal reward. The losing team will be fired.”

If only it was that simple. But of course it is not. And Jesus never suggested it was. Bringing in the Kingdom is definitely what God is about. It is God’s project. But the divine intelligence has set us a task which is not to do the impossible but to do something very possible; to tune our hearts to His heart and to set our hopes on his hopes. To let God’s will become evident to us and to fit in with it.

Sometimes we will get this right and there will be moments when things really do click together and we do, indeed, catch a glimpse of the Kingdom, moments when God’s will really is done on earth as it is in heaven. But we can’t plan for these moments. They are not predictable and they a never what we expect them to be. But that does not mean that we should give up longing for them, praying for them and planning for them.

Let me close with a few things which might give us a glimpse of this Kingdom:

The Kingdom of heaven is like a child in Malawi sleeping safely under a mosquito net.

The Kingdom of heaven is like someone in prison for murder being baptised and confirmed and receiving Holy Communion for the first time.

The Kingdom of heaven is like the victim of a terrorist bomb being able to say “Father, forgive”

The Kingdom of heaven is like a mother in Somalia being able to give her child a drink of clean water.

The Kingdom of heaven is new ways of being church; less dependent upon and weighed down by buildings and more focussed on mission.

The Kingdom of God; neither pie in the sky nor a human project, rather it is us aligning ourselves to the Divine will.

And so we rightly pray as Jesus taught us “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done on earth as it is in heaven.”

And boldly add “Amen”.

 

Fr Christopher

 

 

 

 

 

 


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