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August 4, Eighteenth Sunday of the Year Mt. 14/22-33
Catholic Homilies
August 4th, 2002

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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Matt: 14:13-21

Background:

There are two versions of this story in Matthew's Gospel, a phenomenon which scripture scholars call "doubling." The author of the gospel doubtless had a number of different sources in front of him as he worked, most notably St. Mark's Gospel and a collection of the "sayings" of Jesus (like "Many are called, but few are chosen"). He also had available other traditions. Rather than leave something out, he chose to include two slightly different versions of the same stories. We must remember that these written sources with which the author worked had been preceded by oral traditions, though it now seems likely that the traditions were reduced to writing early in the development of Christianity. The story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is eucharistic in its intent. Some clergy agonize over whether the miracle was an actual physical multiplication or merely a result of everyone bringing forth their small supplies of food. But this misses the point of the story - that God feeds us with both ordinary food and with the Eucharist which unites us with Herself in a banquet of love.

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Once upon a time in the 1960’s, a group of Holy Ghost Fathers from Limerick, Ireland were stationed in Biafra where war and famine were raging. When they recognized that without some outside assistance, most of the citizens would die, they sent a message home to their family and friends in Limerick -- People are starving; send food. The citizens of Limerick, themselves not that far removed from their forebears, many of whom died in the Great Famine, responded. Out of this appeal and response, CONCERN WORLDWIDE, an Irish based international relief organization dedicated to helping the "poorest of the poor" was born. Today, wherever there is a great disaster among the poor, Concern workers are present, seeming to multiple the loves and fishes and medicines and clothing that the poor and destitute require, often at great risk to the Concern workers. When there are obvious other unmet needs in these places, they institute programs to teach the poor skills that will improve the quality of their lives. To those they serve, it appears that these workers are multiplying loaves and fishes.

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