Wednesday of Week 1 of Advent – Gospel

Commentary on Matthew 15:29-37

In today’s Gospel, full of trust and confidence, people bring the disabled, the blind, those unable to speak, those unable to hear. Jesus healed them all and the crowds were amazed. There then comes a scene which is a kind of parable of what Jesus stands for: the compassion of God and his desire that the needs of all be supplied. They have been with him for three days and are hungry. They must be fed. There’s not much to feed them with – seven loaves of bread and a few fish. It is enough for Jesus. And again and again people who have dedicated themselves to caring for the hungry and homeless have found what they needed turning up on their doorstep.

At the end seven (a perfect number) baskets are still left uneaten. All this symbolises the care God takes of his people. And yet, is it happening in many parts of the world today? There is a crucial element in today’s Gospel we cannot overlook. It was not Jesus, but his disciples who distributed the food. In our world there is an abundance. Food production outpaces population growth. If there is hunger, malnutrition and other unmet needs, it is because we, God’s stewards, are failing in our task of distribution. If there is hunger and suffering and death, it is not the work of God. It is our failure to work.

Christmas is a time of giving. We could ask ourselves: To whom are we giving? With whom are we sharing what we have or can afford to buy? Perhaps we could widen the circle this Christmas with gifts that mean life or death for the receivers. Beneficiaries who will never know who their benefactors are, and who will not be able to give anything back. Did Jesus not say something about giving so quietly that the left hand will not know what the right hand is doing?

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