August 2, 2020 | 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Reading 1: Isaiah 55:1-3
Reading 2: Romans 8:35, 37-39
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21
"Can anything cut us off from the love of Christ?" St. Paul asks this in his Letter to the Romans this week (v. 35). And across all three of the readings, it is proven that nothing can keep us from His love. We can arrive at God's love by going through Jesus: He desires nothing but closeness, intimacy, and love.
Sometimes this can feel too good to be true. I know that sometimes I psych myself out at the simplicity of it: that we can actually receive God's love in a free way.
When we think about relationships and the ways in which we interact with others, sometimes we catch ourselves trying to earn affection. We use gifts and affection and doing good things — all objectively good things, by the way — to win the love and approval of others. How many times do we find ourselves doing that? Sometimes, yes, it's because we want to be nice. But sometimes, on a deeper level, we may use that as the currency of affection.
This in turn can impact the way we see God: We can see Him as a taskmaster He will only show His approval of us if we do everything perfectly. If I go to mass every single day, if I volunteer my time at Catechism — again, objectively good things! — surely this is my fast track to heaven.
So perhaps it's not the act, but the intention. And perhaps the intention may speak great volumes of the ways in which we see who God is in our life.
"...come to me; listen, and you will live" (Isaiah 55:3). God calls to us with a free gift: His love. Through sending His Son to die on the cross for us, we have been afforded this gift of salvation. God doesn't need our praise. But, He does desire intimacy with us. He desires that closeness and will stop at nothing to prove His love for us. His love is EXTRAVAGANT.
The Gospel this week shows Jesus' extravagance: He could have made just enough for the crowd of 5,000. But instead, He made so much that all were full, and there were 12 baskets left over. Jesus is ALL IN.
As St. Paul states, "For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power,
nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
God gives us a free gift of love, and it's not a stingy one. This love is a love that is free, total, and full. And there is nothing that can keep us away from Him or His love.
The only thing that might keep us from receiving it is ourselves: any false perceptions of God, our own sin and temptation, or other desires. God, however, sees you as infinitely more valuable than any of those things.
Come to Him today: embrace His love. How can you step into His love today?
Verse for reflection: "They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps left over, twelve baskets full." — Matthew 14:20
Questions for reflection: Are we allowing God to love us freely and totally? What might be holding us back?
Prayer: Lord, nothing can keep me from your love. Help me to always strive for your love and welcome you into my heart. Your love is extravagant; it is enough for me.