Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your grace that your people are able to faithfully serve you: Please help us so we may run without stumbling to receive your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Readings: Nehemiah 9:16-21; Psalm 78 14-26; Romans 8:35-39
CHALLENGE: We are learning that it is only because of God’s grace, (His help that we do not deserve) that our character can become better, we can live good lives for God, and we can become “the –best-version-of-ourselves” to love and do good for other people with all our heart. In what area of your life would you like God to help you change and grow so you can get His heavenly promises in fullness of life?
FIRST READING: Nehemiah 9:16-21
16 “But our people before us became proud and stubborn. They didn’t obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen to you. They forgot the miracles you had done among them. So they became stubborn. When they refused to obey you, they appointed a leader for themselves. They wanted to go back to being slaves in Egypt. But you are a God who forgives. You are gracious. You are tender and kind. You are slow to get angry. You are full of love. So you didn’t desert them. 18 They made for themselves a metal statue of a god that looked like a calf. They said to one another, ‘Here is your god. He brought you up out of Egypt.’ And they did evil things that dishonored you. But you still didn’t desert them.
19 “Because you loved them so much, you didn’t leave them in the desert. During the day the pillar of cloud didn’t stop guiding them on their path. At night the pillar of fire didn’t stop shining on the way you wanted them to go. 20 You gave them your good Spirit to teach them. You didn’t hold back your manna from their mouths. And you gave them water when they were thirsty. 21 For 40 years you took good care of them in the desert. They had everything they needed. Their clothes didn’t wear out. And their feet didn’t swell up.
PSALM 78: 14-26
14 He divided the sea and let them go through; *
he made the waters to stand in a heap.
15 In the daytime he led them with a cloud, *
and all the night through with a light of fire.
16 He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
and gave them drink in abundance, as out of the great deep.
17 He brought waters out of the stony rock, *
so that it gushed out like the rivers.
18 Yet for all this they sinned more against him, *
and provoked the Most High in the wilderness.
19 They tested God in their hearts *
and demanded food for their craving.
20 They spoke against God, saying, *
“Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
21 Indeed, he smote the stony rock, so that water gushed out, and the streams overflowed; *
but can he give bread also, or provide meat for his people?”
22 When the Lord heard this, he was full of wrath; *
so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and there flared up fierce anger against Israel,
23 Because they did not believe in God, *
and did not put their trust in his help.
24 So he commanded the clouds above *
and opened the doors of heaven.
25 He rained down manna upon them to eat *
and gave them food from heaven.
26 So mortals ate the bread of angels; *
for he sent them food enough.
SECOND READING: ROMANS 8:35-39
35 Who can separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or hard times or harm or hunger? Can nakedness or danger or war? 36 It is written,
“Because of you, we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be killed.” (Psalm 44:22)
37 No! In all these things we are more than winners! We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us. 38 I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can separate us. 39 Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can separate us. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love. That’s because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.
GOSPEL: Matthew 14: 13-21 Jesus Feeds Five Thousand
13 Jesus heard what had happened to John. He wanted to be alone. So he went in a boat to a quiet place. The crowds heard about this. They followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus came ashore, he saw a large crowd. He felt deep concern for them. He healed their sick people.
15 When it was almost evening, the disciples came to him. “There is nothing here,” they said. “It’s already getting late. Send the crowds away. They can go and buy some food in the villages.”
16 Jesus replied, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 Then Jesus directed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks. He broke the loaves into pieces. Then he gave them to the disciples. And the disciples gave them to the people. 20 All of them ate and were satisfied. The disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces. 21 The number of men who ate was about 5,000. Women and children also ate.
NEHEMIAH 9:17: How is God’s character described? “You are a God who forgives. You are gracious (offering blessing and favor that we don’t really deserve). You are tender and kind. You are slow to get angry. You are full of love.” Think about the garden in your own heart. Which virtue (character trait) would help you serve others more faithfully as His image bearer? What is your prayer request to God?
PSALM 78:14-26: This psalm of wisdom recalls how God’s people continuously received God’s grace, His help and provision even as they rebelled and complained. Start EACH day by thanking God for life and His blessings can sustain a heart of gratitude. Keep reviewing and adding to your gratitude list.
ROMANS 8:39: Do you believe that nothing, even your sometime rebellious spirit, can separate you from the love of God? God IS love and He loves EVERYONE. This is the powerful LOVE poured into our hearts by God’s grace, that helps us love and forgive others no matter what.
MATTHEW 14: 14-21 The feeding of thousands of people with only a few loaves of bread and fish is a very important miracle story that shows how God provides for our needs with divine (heavenly power) solutions and how Jesus is teaching His disciples to trust and follow His directions.
This story comes after Jesus taught the Our Father prayer to His disciples (see Matthew 6:9-13, especially v. 10-11: “May your kingdom come, may what you want to happen be done on earth as it is in heaven.” ……and give us today our daily bread”.)
14:13: When Jesus heard that his cousin John was killed by His enemies, He was sad and went away to a quiet place to be away from all the people and to be with God the Father in prayer.
14:14: After his quiet time in prayer, Jesus saw the needs of the people and took action to look after their needs and healed the sick.
14:15: The disciples saw the need to provide dinner for the thousands of people and offered a practical solution.
14:16: Jesus used this opportunity to teach His disciples that God cares and provides for the needs of His people and prayed to God the Father for a solution from His heavenly kingdom.
14:19: The disciples heard Jesus praying and thanking God the Father for providing food for the people.
Jesus gave the disciples the food from God to give to the people.
The disciples followed Jesus’ direction and all the people had enough to eat with lots left over.
Think about everyone around the world coming to mass for Holy Communion to receive the bread of life, the living Son of God’s Body and Blood with thanksgiving. Just as the disciples distribute the bread to the people in this story, so also the resurrected Christ feeds His Body and Blood to His Church through the Eucharist (Mass) today. Ponder this miracle as you commune with Jesus in Spiritual Communion this Sunday!