When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

How would have you reacted if, in the moment of mourning a friend, people interrupted you so they could be healed? Many of us would have asked for privacy or maybe we would have been too sad to help others, or maybe we would have been angry by people’s lack of consideration. I think we would have been understanding of Jesus if he felt those emotions. We can see from his actions that his love is not like our love. We always come first and nothing can separate us from this love, not even John’s murder. That’s the message of today’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21).

As the Apostle Paul explains in the epistle to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35). Jesus will always be there for us. As is it written in today’s Psalm “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs” (Psalm 145:cf.16).

The depths of Jesus’ love for us are unknown. The Prophet Isaiah alludes to this when he says: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). These are not empty words. As we experience in today’s gospel, these words are fulfilled in the miracle of the loaves bread and fish.

We must be careful, however, not to misconstrue Christ’s love for us as a cheap commodity that we can buy and throw away. Yes, his love is there for the taking, but we must do our part to justify it. What may that be? “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life” (Isaiah 55:2-3) God does not force himself on us, we must heed his words to receive his love.

 

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

 

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