COMING TO THE LORD

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How we shop has radically changed. Online shopping continues to take an ever-larger share of the marketplace. Rather than going to a store, we visit Amazon.com and other websites, choose what we want, enter our credit card number, and then wait for FedEx, UPS, or the Postal Service to bring our order to our door.

This change in consumer culture has also affected the way we get our food. Not long ago, pizza or Asian fare were the foods most delivered to American homes, now every sort of food and beverage can be brought to our doors. We can even choose the items we need from our local supermarket, have them taken off the shelves by in-store shoppers, packed, and then delivered. We never have to touch a shopping cart! This change in the way we purchase items has been accelerated by the current pandemic.

The practice of having things brought to us has even entered our spiritual lives. When the order was given to shelter in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, our churches were closed. Parishes then began to live stream their Sunday and weekday Masses. We might say that Masses began to be “delivered” to Catholics courtesy of the Internet or local television.

This Sunday’s scriptures speak not about having things delivered but rather about our coming to receive what we need in our spiritual lives.

In our First Reading (Isaiah 55:1-3) we read, “Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!… Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.”

Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God tells us that we need to come to him if we want to receive his life-giving gifts.

Then in our Gospel Reading (Matthew 14:13-21), we learn how Jesus went by boat to a secluded place to mourn the death of John the Baptist. “The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot.”

The people came to Jesus. “His heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” When it was evening Jesus showed his concern for the thousands of people who had come to him by feeding them. He miraculously multiplied the loaves and fish brought to him by his disciples.

If the people had not come to Jesus, their sick would not have been cured, their hunger would not have been satisfied, and they would not have witnessed the multiplication of the loaves and fish, the miracle most widely reported in the four Gospels.

This Sunday we are reminded that we need to come to the Lord. We do that by coming to Mass where we hear God’s Word and share at his Holy Table.

We come to the Lord when we gather with our fellow Catholics to celebrate the sacraments, to join in religious devotions, and to participate in programs of religious formation.

We come to the Lord when we engage in works of justice and mercy where the Lord makes himself known in the poor and suffering. “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

If we are to grow in our spiritual lives, we cannot just sit at home and have God’s mercy and love delivered to our doors like some kind of purchase. While we may need to do that for a time because of this extraordinary situation, we cannot make “home delivery” our usual practice. We have to come to the Lord. As Jesus tells us, “Come to me…learn from me.” (Matthew 11:28, 29)

© 2020 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski