18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

They all ate as much as they wanted.

Matthew 14:13-21

Begin with a few moments of quiet.

The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered.

Invite all present to sit comfortably.

When sitting comfortably, take three deep breaths, as you breathe in feel your lungs filling all the way up, when they are full slowly release your breath and feel your lungs emptying out fully. Repeat this three times.

Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?

Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so.
If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.

Prayer for Healing- Eric Nordhoff

Introduce the Gospel

On this Sunday we celebrate the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospels, “compassion” is used in a way which is restricted and instructive. Compassion is used only of Jesus himself or of God in some of
the parables. The word itself means something like mercy, arising from deep within, a kind of spontaneous empathy and understanding, the kind of reaction a woman has for the child
of her womb. When people are compassionate to us, it is because we need it and usually we are deeply touched and grateful. Such is our God! If we receive such compassion, we are obliged to give it in return, of course.
This is the charter of Christian living.

Read the GospelMatthew 14:13-21
Read the Gospel aloud, even if you are on your own.

When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death he withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. But the people heard of this and, leaving the towns, went after him on foot. So as he stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them and healed their sick.

When evening came, the disciples went to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place, and the time has slipped by; so send the people away, and they can go to the villages to buy themselves some food.’ Jesus replied, ‘There is no need for them to go: give them something to eat yourselves.’ But they answered ‘All we have with us is five loaves and two fish.’ ‘Bring them here to me’ he said. He gave orders that the people were to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing. And breaking the loaves handed them to his disciples who gave them to the crowds. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they collected the scraps remaining; twelve baskets full. Those who ate numbered about five thousand men, to say nothing of women and children.

Reflect on the Gospel

Sit quietly now for a few moments and allow the images created by hearing the Gospel to emerge. Use the quietening music again if you wish

Spiegel im Spiegel – Arvo Pärt

Use one or more of the following prompts to help in reflecting on this Gospel passage.

  1. The news of the death of John the Baptist prompted Jesus to go off to be alone, but the crowds followed him. Despite his personal sorrow he was able to reach out in compassion to the crowd.
    Perhaps there have been times when you have put personal preferences and desires to one side in order to reach out to another.
    What was it like for you when you were able to do this?
  2. When Jesus saw the crowd, he recognised their need and reached out to them. Who has been a Jesus person for you, someone who recognised your need and reached out to you?
    For whom have you been a Jesus person?
  3. The scene is a Eucharistic symbol reminding us of the sacred meal to which all believers are invited to receive nourishment from the Lord. How has the Eucharist been a source of nourishment for you?
  4. When the disciples became aware of the problem they wanted to send the crowd away but Jesus told them “You give them something to eat”. They thought what they had was insufficient but Jesus used the little they had to feed the crowd. When we give the little we have to a situation the results are often beyond our expectations.
    Have you had this experience?
  5. “Lord, it is an extraordinary thing: if we complain about the little we have, we never have enough; but if we take what we have, raise our eyes to heaven, and say the blessing over it, we have as much as we want, and even twelve baskets of scraps of leftovers.” Michel de Verteuil

Finish this part with a Prayer

Bountiful and compassionate God, you place in the hands of your disciples the
food of life. Nourish us at your holy table, that we may bear Christ to others and share with them the gifts we have so richly received.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and
reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayer of the Faithful

In the Mass, the prayer of the faithful are the people’s response to their reflection on the Scripture readings and are spoken to God in the second person. The following have been prepared by myself for this weekend.

Begin: God of our being, we heard today in our Gospel an image of the abundance that you offer to us through our lives. Confident that this abundance is ours now in this moment, we turn to You in prayer for our world, our community and ourselves.

For the Church, the people gathered here and in Your name in all places…pause… that we may welcome all who hunger for meaning and purpose so they can be nourished by Your Word and the Bread of Life. Lord hear us

For all who support and provide food to those in need: …pause… that their efforts are a visible sign of Your love and compassion to all in need. Lord hear us

For all who work the fields or seas to bring food to our tables: …pause…  that You will protect them, renew their strength, and make fruitful their labours. Lord hear us

For all who are hungry, facing famine, are undernourished, or struggling with failed crops: …pause…   that You will touch the hearts of many to share with them and help in easing  their suffering. Lord hear us

For a deep sense of gratitude: …pause… that we may appreciate all Your gifts to us so that we may freely share them with all. Lord hear us

For peace in our world: …pause… that we may learn to look at all living beings with Your eyes of compassion and through that abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth. Lord hear us

For our own intentions: name those intentions you specifically want to mention 
Lord hear us

For all who have died  ………. name those people you specifically want to remember 
Lord hear us

Gathering Prayer:

God, all merciful and all compassionate, help us to be like you that we may console others with the same consolation with which we ourselves have been consoled.  We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Close the time of Prayer with the Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Additional Resources

Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written or on Video

The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.

The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.