Reflection for 18thSunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
(Is 55:1-3; Rm 8:35-39; Mt 14:13-21)


“When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart.” Imagine the debt of sorrow and distress Jesus had to bear in the face of human wickedness! And relate it to how many people today are frustrated, heartbroken, and other forms of emotional distress. Jesus withdrew from the noise—from the people and His ‘ordinary activity of the day—and went to a quiet place to stay alone. Within that ‘silent place’, He would drink the cup of sorrow to the full and conquer it. He would step out of it, re-energized and satisfied.

Think about the ‘wine and milk of satisfaction’ that Isaiah offered in the first reading. Such satisfaction can be likened to the freshness of heart we get when we step in with Jesus into ‘the place of silence.’ Isaiah said, “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant…” This inner peace is given freely, to everyone who thirsts, at no cost! Jesus has sanctified the ‘place of silence’ as necessary for healing hurts and finding inner satisfaction.


Suddenly, Jesus’ quiet moment was disrupted; the crowds found Him. These ‘demanding crowds’ can be compared to ‘distractions’ in prayer. Many people run away from meditation because they just cannot concentrate. Once they step into the room of silence ‘Crowds of thoughts’ would step in and dislodge their concentration. These ‘attention seekers’ would want to sap the energy we got from the ‘wine and milk’ we drank in the room of meditative silence. So, from His lonely place, Jesus stepped out with deep compassion for the crowds and attended to them. What ordinarily came as a distraction to His quiet time became ‘an act of God’ among the people. This ‘act of God’, which they felt in the authority of His teaching and the healing of the sick, would grow into providing satisfaction to the crowds.


The disciples had three complaints: 1. It was evening; darkness would soon descend, so the people should be dismissed as soon as possible. 2. It was a lonely place; they had nowhere to get help. 3. The crowds were too many; the number of ‘mouths to feed’ was more than their resources, which were five loaves and two fish! Note that each of these ‘obstacles’ was enough for Jesus to give up. But the energy of His deep compassion, which is rooted in the silence of the heart, was stronger than the weakness the obstacles represent.

Therefore, “And taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” The first response a contemplative heart gives to the weakness of others is ‘compassion.’ Love will always find a way out. The compassionate response of Jesus transformed the bread and fish into a ‘concrete action of God’ as the crowds ate to their satisfaction. The beauty of this action illumined the darkening evening and turned the ‘lonely place’ into a garden of refreshment. But this sublime and awesome act would lead any honest heart that tasted the meal to contemplate Jesus. Here, the heart continues to ‘feed’ on Jesus in silence.


A heart that ‘feeds’ on Jesus, in silent meditation, cannot be lonely; it is warm, peaceful, and compassionate. It is a heart that has fallen in love with Jesus. It is a Eucharistic heart that clings to Jesus like the Beloved Disciple at the Last Supper. Nothing can separate such a one from Jesus. Whether he is busy or resting, in tribulation, distress, persecution, or need, he is “more than a conqueror through Him who loved us.” This binding love we have in Christ Jesus is stronger than any principalities or human weakness. Through meditation, our heart becomes a ‘lonely place’, where we enter (with coordinated attention on the word of God) to encounter Jesus in silence.

As you have joined in THE SOUND OF SILENCE meditation this Sunday, may God satisfy the yearnings of your heart and quench your thirst. May He renew His love in you so that you are more than a conqueror in every challenge you may face. May Almighty God bless + you, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Sunday August 2nd, 2020.


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