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Today's readings are a beautiful reflection on the universality of the Church. In the first reading, from Isaiah, we hear that the Lord will provide for His people a feast of "rich foods and choice wines" on a mountain. We're also told that the Lord will wipe away all tears and remove the reproach of His people from the whole earth, pointing towards the Church's future inclusivity of Gentiles.

This leads us to today's Gospel from Matthew. We're all familiar with the feeding of the 5,000, but did you know that Jesus performed a SEPARATE feeding of 4,000? It's true! It's also today's Gospel. Jesus is healing people on a mountain near the Decapolis, a Gentile region.

The crowd is amazed at the signs He performs, and praise "the God of Israel." Matthew's inclusion of this term leads us to believe that the crowd were Gentiles, not Jews. It's a big deal that Jesus ministered to Gentiles! If you remember, Gentile converts in the early Church (specifically whether or not they must adhere to certain Jewish laws) were the reason for the Council of Jerusalem.

Jesus takes pity on the crowd, because they've been on the mountain for three days, and turns seven loaves of bread and a few fish into enough food for the whole crowd (with seven baskets left over).

Let us remember that our Church is universal, and let us work to include all peoples in it this Advent. May God bless you!

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