Dom Alex Echeandía, OSB: "This blog reflects on what many people ask about God and His image. In a way, it focuses on questions like: How should art depict the relationship between man and God? How can art best express eternal values? Can you, and should you, portray the face of Christ? For many centuries these were some of the questions which taxed the minds of the greatest artists of Western Christianity. For Eastern Christianity, the sacred icons make that connection between God and man in Christ, the perfect and ideal Image of God: Imago Dei."

Homily on Sunday XVIII, Year A, 2014, by Dom Alex Echeandía

Homily on Sunday XVIII, Year A                              
Belmont, 03rd August 2014
by Dom Alex Echeandia   

 “Jesus took pity on them and healed the sick”

You may have heard that God cares for everyone and sustains everything, and indeed it is true. God opens wide His hands and grant our desires. However, sometimes it can seem that God does not care at all. We hear in the news how innocent people, including children, are dying in Gaza. Where is God in all of that?, one may say. God’s care for us becomes puzzling to our understanding. It is true that our understanding is limited, but God’s love is not.

Our disappointment with God lacks an understanding of God’s ways. In these situations God is even closer than ever. God suffers with those who suffer and experiences need with those in need. It is what Jesus tells us about the last judgement: “I was hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison and without a home.” God is very close to those who suffer. As Saint Paul tells us today, that nothing can come between us and the love of Christ.

God really does care and suffer with our struggles. It is expressed in today’s gospel. God’s care for us is shown in a miracle, a miracle by which we may learn about such love of God that He offers. However, we are not only shown what God is and does.  The Scriptures also teach us about ourselves. Jesus as Teacher not only shows us his mercy and love. He does not only teach us about Himself. He also teaches us about ourselves. We sometimes misbehave with God and our neighbour by way of selfishness, desires for power and comfort.

Let us see what happened in that desolate place by the sea. There were thousands of hungry people who were fed miraculously by God.  It shows how God cares. Miracles essentially are there to show God’s action and to bring us closer to God. A miracle teaches us to care.

This morning as we sit in church many people in Gaza are suffering without a place to go. They don’t even know if they will be alive the following morning. It is when the Gospel makes sense in our lives to teach us how to care. When Jesus was informed by the disciples about the lack of food, Jesus’ first reaction was: “You give them something to eat”; “you look after them”, “you provide what your neighbour needs most.” We can easily look away. However, God calls us to look again and offer our gifts to others, even a greeting or a smile. Small efforts towards others will indeed be multiplied by God to the point of producing so much that others may collect the remaining food- up to twelve baskets! Love must be shared; that love that comes from God and is expressed in so many different ways.

Christ as the good teacher and shepherd shows us the way to be a Christian in the world. Our desire for comfort tempts us to see God in our own image rather than us in His. We prefer to keep God within us and within our home, indoors for nobody else. It is an easier thing to do rather than going with Him outdoors in order to offer our loaves of bread and fish, even the most insignificant thing we have however valuable.

Out of our selfishness, God invites us to prefer the way of koinonia, a communion that lets God approach others through us. We are free to follow Him because Christ is a shepherd on the hill and not simply a keeper of creatures in zoos. As in Paradise, God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. He also wants now to walk with you and each of us in the company of our neighbour. And in order to be guided by our Lord, let us feed our lives from the True Bread, from Jesus’ own Body and Blood, as we celebrate the Banquet of Love, the Holy Eucharist, so that His love may expand in us in this earthly life.

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