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Homily: God Keeps His Promises

  07/30/11 14:56, by jsignal, Categories: life with god

Below is my homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. It is based on these readings: Is 55:1-3; Ps 145; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21

God keeps his promises. Today we get a great lesson in God?s fidelity through a look at history. We get to see, through the words of Scripture, how God has worked in the last several thousand years to carry out his plan, to see how this plan for the salvation of the world can never be derailed, no matter what we do.

Promises to King David

We begin by going back 3,000 years ago, to King David?s time. David, through the prophet Nathan, received a message from God. In this message, God promised certain things to David, saying: ?I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm?. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. ? I will not withdraw my favor from him ? Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever? (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Great news for King David! His kingdom will endure and his descendant will be a ?son of god? and a king who will reign forever!

But history shows that David?s Kingdom did eventually collapse. It was conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians. It seemed like God?s promise was broken. Things didn?t play out like they expected.

Isaiah told those promise would be upheld

Fast forward 500 years after King David, to the time when our 1st reading, from Isaiah, was written (about 2,500 years ago). At the end of that reading, the Lord promised, again, that he would keep that promise he made to David, saying ?I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.? It seemed that promise had been broken, but here God?s saying that he will still keep it. David?s benefits will be granted. He explained how the promise will be kept by describing a banquet where we can come to feast. ?All you who are thirsty come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat. Drink wine and milk!?

In that reading we were called us to ?heed? the Lord, to ?listen, that [we] may have life.? For those who listen, in other words, those benefits assured to King David centuries before, will be given. There will be great feasting, and all of it free.

Jesus Christ

Now, fast forward another 500 years or so to the time of Jesus?2,000 years ago, to our Gospel. It still seemed, at that time, the promises God made a thousand years previous had not been kept. The Jewish people were still waiting for God to ?renew the everlasting covenant.? They were still waiting for the Messiah, a King who would fulfill the promises made to David and establish a lasting kingdom, who would provide a heavenly ?banquet? for those who listened.

In the multiplication of the loaves they got a hint that, in Jesus, they might finally see their promises fulfilled.

The people came to ?heed,? to ?listen? to Jesus. They listened to his teachings for so long, and in such a desolate place, that they began to get hungry. Rather than send them away, Jesus provided a banquet for them. How he did it should sound familiar to us?it reminds us of what?s coming in the life of Jesus. The Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the Eucharist, and even the priesthood are prefigured here.

The Mass

In other words, this miracle foreshadows the Mass. The people brought forward their gifts?the meager 5 loaves and 2 fish. As he prepared the meal, the Gospel tells us that he took the bread and ?looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples?? These same words, ?took,? ?blessed,? ?broke,? and ?gave? were used to describe the Last Supper. They are likewise found in our Eucharistic Prayer, when we hear ??he took bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples?? Likewise, after the consecration of the wine in the chalice, we hear the words ?this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant?.? It?s also interesting to note that Jesus gave the loaves to his apostles who, in turn, fed the people. In Jesus? plan, the multitudes are fed through the hands of his priests.

Those present might have thought ?finally, the Messiah has come. He has fed us with this banquet, as promised. We have heard and heeded his teaching, as promised. Now, if only he would be crowned king and, as promised centuries before to David, renew the everlasting covenant.?

But, then, Jesus was crucified. We, in our sin, killed him. Had God abandoned his people, still refusing to keep the promises made to David? As Fr. Robert Barron put it, ?The cross is sin in the world, putting to death God?s grace.?

Paul wrote to the Romans in our 2nd reading that death could not separate us from the love of God. Was Paul wrong? Of course not. Today, two thousand years later, we know that even death did not thwart God?s plan. Jesus rose from the dead.

The Cross, a device of torture used by us sinners to reject God?s ultimate gift of grace, himself, has become for us a symbol of God?s complete, self-giving love, a love that overcomes even death.

We see, now, that God has indeed kept the promises he made to King David 3,000 years ago, the promises he reminded us of 2,500 years ago through Isaiah, and which he fulfilled in the Last Supper, his death, and his resurrection.

At times we often doubt that God is with us and feel like God has abandoned us. At those times, remember salvation history. God kept all his promises, but not as we expected. Paul was right?anguish, distress, persecution, famine, peril?wars, the collapse of nations, none of this can separate us from God.

Only sin, which comes from within us, can do that. But even when we do sin, we should recall that we?ve already done the worst possible thing?we?ve sinned in killing Our Lord on the Cross. And even that did not stop him. God even then kept his promises and even now constantly calls us to return to his forgiveness and to feast at his Banquet?the Mass.

So when we hear Jesus, through the priest in the confessional, say to us ?I absolve you from your sins,? or when we hear Jesus, through the priest, say at the altar ?this is my body,? we can believe those words. And no matter what happens in our world, our country and its economy, or in our families?God?s plan will prevail, and his promises will be kept.

The image above is of a 5th century mosaic in the floor of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes in Israel.

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