"Without money and without cost"

The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
(Ps 145.15-16)

The day I arrived it rained two inches here, but it's been very dry this summer. The harvest is noticably smaller. Yesterday I read in the paper that this part of Illinois has been designated a national disaster area because of the drought. One of the farmers was quoted as saying that the lack of water had destroyed almost a third of his crop.

Wait a minute. Destroyed? I can understand saying that he wasn't able to grow as much as usual, but a drought doesn't destroy, it just doesn't give as much as we want or expect. The rain is a gift of God, as is the sunshine and the seeds and the growth of living things. Yet when the gift is less we say our crops are "destroyed."

The readings this Sunday emphasized God's way of giving gifts. From Isaiah 55:

Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Then we heard the story of Jesus feeding the crowds. The disciples wondered where they could get money to buy food for all those people. But Jesus told them to sit down and then he fed them. Free. A gift. The fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, the appearance of the kingdom of God.

And Jesus' act is a model for us as well. Heather has been reading The Long Loneliness, by Dorothy Day, and I noticed this passage the other day:
[Peter Maurin] always spoke of giving. Those who had land and tools should give. Those who had capital should give. Those who had labor should give that. "Love is an exchange of gifts," St. Ignatius had said. It was in these simple, practical, down-to-earth ways that people could show their love for each other.