MEMORIAL OF SAINT ALPHONSUS LIGUORI, BISHOP AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”
Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”
Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, and broke it. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord: This is how I will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Go, tell Hananiah, Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars only to forge iron bars in place of them! For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put an iron yoke on the neck of all these nations so that they may serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and they shall indeed serve him; I have even given him the wild animals. And the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: I am going to send you off the face of the earth. Within this year you will be dead, because you have spoken rebellion against the Lord.”
In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.
Psalm 119:29, 43, 79-80, 95, 102
Put false ways far from me; and graciously teach me your law.
Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your ordinances.
Let those who fear you turn to me, so that they may know your decrees. May my heart be blameless in your statutes, so that I may not be put to shame.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your decrees.
I do not turn away from your ordinances, for you have taught me.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
In the scriptures today, we read some examples of human weakness. Hananiah prophesied erroneously. He made the people trust a lie, speaking rebellion in the name of the Lord. As a result, he died.
In the gospel reading, the people are needy, desperate for Jesus. They followed him by the thousands on foot when Jesus tried to withdraw. They needed and desired his teaching and his healing and Jesus gave it to them.
The disciples, when they saw the need of the people, did not have the compassion of Jesus. They only saw obstacles: “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late,” they said. They thought they had nothing to give; They told Jesus, “Send the crowds away.”
But Jesus gave them direction, much like he did with the stewards at the wedding feast at Cana. They obeyed Jesus’ word and through their obedience, a miracle happened. The bread and fish were multiplied enough to feed all the people with much left over.
In our weakness, we have to remember that we must wash everything through the filter of faith in our God if we want to see ourselves and our world transformed. When we are hurting, we come to Jesus. When we are hungry, we come to Jesus. When we see nothing but obstacles, we come to Jesus. When we believe a word that we think will come to pass, we turn it over to Jesus in truth. If we do, we will find that Jesus has more than enough of compassion, grace, mercy and provision for all the needs that we can bring him. But we do have to follow him and seek him with expectancy. We do not go outside of the things that God tells us to do or we risk displeasing God, leading others astray and making ourselves false gods.
Today we remember St. Alphonsus Liguori who was known for his great sanctity and many talents, but most famously how he fed thousands of people during a time of plague and famine, selling everything to buy food for the hungry. We honor him today and his legacy of mercy. St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us!