Memorial of Saint Alfonso Ligouri, bishop and doctor of the Church
(Jeremiah 28:1-17; Matthew 14:13-21)
Philosopher Robert Solomon understands grief as a continuation of love. He sees people in grief coming to terms with the fact that they will see their loved ones no more. Seeking seclusion, the grieving try to understand what the dead meant to them and resolve how they will carry on without them. Thus, grieving is a process leading to action. In today’s gospel Jesus is seen retreating so that he might come to terms with the assassination of his mentor, John the Baptist.
Jesus became a disciple of John in the desert. After his baptism, Jesus went his own way, but the two kept in touch. Now Jesus has to consider his destiny in light of how John, an equally popular prophet, was mistreated. He is not allowed much time. The crowd searches him out. He resolves to throw himself on the mercy of the Father. He will continue his mission of reuniting the twelve tribes of Israel. To show his care for them, he petitions his Father to supply enough for all to eat. Then he witnesses the Father’s immediate and gratifying response.
The food that Jesus’ intercession produces is rightly seen as Eucharistic. We partake of it when we break bread in Jesus’ name at mass. It first draws us together in him and then sends us out to others. We continue Jesus’ labor of reconciling the peoples of the world.