Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Numbers 11:4-15
Gospel Matthew 14:13-21

"…His heart was moved with pity for them…."

Being compassionate, Jesus was certainly concerned with the physical well-being of the people who had come to hear him preach. Just how deep Christ’s compassion was is made obvious when we consider again something the first verse of this passage tells us. Jesus is told about the hunger of the crowds right after He had heard of the death of John the Baptizer, and had withdrawn by boat to a deserted place by Himself. If we were to take time to imagine this, we could very clearly see just how human Christ was, responding in grief and perhaps anger at the death of His own cousin. He withdrew from others to be alone. And yet, even at this point in His life, the needs of others pressed upon Him. His response was that of God himself: he turned away from Himself, and towards those in need.

Jesus was certainly concerned with the physical well-being of the people who had come to hear Him preach. But He knew the people in the crowds better than they knew themselves. Christ had a much deeper concern for their spiritual well-being. He had reminded them that their ancestors, whom God had fed in the desert by sending bread in the form of manna, had died. His divine Father, Jesus told them, had sent Him to be their spiritual bread: a bread which would allow them to live forever. If they would eat this bread by accepting him and following his commandments, they could enter into God’s eternal kingdom of love.