Wednesday of the First Week in Advent
(Isaiah 25:6-10, Matthew 15:29-37)
Italians have a custom of eating a festive supper on Christmas Eve. It is meatless, to be sure, in honor of the ancient fast on the day before the celebration of the Lord’s coming. But it is hardly penitential. White wine is first served with the pasta and marinera sauce. A hearty red wine follows for the fish entrée. The menu goes on and on ending only with all partakers more than satisfied. The feast resembles the Lord’s promise announced by Isaiah in the first reading today.
God wants to console His people. He promises them that the punishment for their inequity will end in glory. They will forget about destruction and death as they again come to the mountain of the Lord. As the Lord once provided them more than enough manna in the desert so will He throw a much more lavish banquet as they return to Him.
The gospel story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish shows a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus takes compassion on the people who follow him. Nothing is mentioned of rich foods or choice wines, but for people who are really hungry a meal of bread and fish will seem like the buffet brunch at the Ritz-Carlton. The people, it should be noted, do not go to Jesus for food but to learn God’s ways. They are more than satisfied. Jesus feeds their bodies as well as their souls.