So as I write this parts of Northern England have had restrictions reinstated because the virus seems to be taking hold again, this past week Spain and as recent as yesterday Luxembourg have been taken off the ‘Air Corridor’ list so if people fly to either of those countries passengers will have to self-isolate for fourteen days on arrival in UK. Things are constantly changing, and this is not over, the virus is still with us and pushing back on our way of life. At a recent Downing Street briefing the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said, ‘We may have reached the limits of opening up society’. Quite a stark statement and something that all of us, the Government and indeed ‘Joe Public’ need to reflect upon.
Today’s readings as always are there to give us hope and courage as we navigate our world, the society we live in. We have jumped ahead a bit in Matthews Gospel to Chapter 14 now, last week we heard Jesus finish his long discourse with the crowds about the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus has left the crowds and returns to Nazareth where his appearance leads people to reject him and his teachings. Jesus hears the news of John the Baptists beheading and wants to be left on his own. A very human trait, when many of us hear bad news we want to be left on our own to absorb it and come to terms with it, but as we also know being around the people who we love and care for is often the best medicine to help us.
The crowds continue to follow Jesus and Jesus aware of their needs reaches out to them in a selfless act. It does not matter what he is going through he can see the importance that he has, and his teaching has on the following crowds. He reaches out with compassion and love. Jesus responds to his disciple’s request that the people need to leave so that they can rest with the feeding of the 5000. The multiplication of the loaves and the fish is a familiar miracle to us. The disciples are more concerned with how they are feeling and yet Jesus shows his love to all by giving them more food than they need.
In this action Jesus is giving us a clear sign of the Kingdom of Heaven. Something so small (fish and loaves) can give us a great feast. That is a lesson for all of us, we do not need huge amounts of money or rich food to have a great feast and enjoy ourselves. Even the smallest of offerings can produce a great abundance.
The multiplication of the loaves and fish appears in both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark with slight variations, maybe another sign of the importance of this miracle. Each miracle that Jesus performs gives us an insight into the Christ himself and his teaching on the ‘Good News’ of the Kingdom of Heaven.
In this time of Coronavirus, we need to keep our minds focused on the message of Christ. Things around us are uncertain, will we ever get back to a ‘normal way of life’? Our faith can give us great comfort in all the circumstances of our lives. We must let God work in and through us and when we allow that to happen the kingdom of heaven is present with us and to us.
Look at today’s second reading, ‘Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ even if we are worried or troubled or being threatened or attacked’. Our way of life has changed and sadly will continue to change until this virus is under control, until that time comes, we must never lose heart, we must look to our faith and the Eucharist to sustain us. It is the source and summit of who we are as Catholics. When we take on the Eucharist, we are being fed both spiritually and physically. It is the Eucharist that gives us the strength to move forward and to come to terms with what lies ahead no matter the uncertainty.