“Wine First; Now Bread: Am I a Brewer, Baker, or a Healer?!” – Matthew 15:29-37†


 

Holy Father’s (Popes) Monthly Prayer Intentions for December, 2010

    

The Experience of Personal Suffering as a Help to Others who Suffer, and Opening Our Doors to Christ

 

General: That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.

 

Missionary: That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice.

 

 

 

Today is my (and my wife’s) twentieth wedding anniversary.  Though I jokingly say to all who will listen that “twenty years with her is like twenty minutes – – underwater”, I literally cannot remember a time without her.  The two of us are truly of ONE nature.  I love her so much, and that grows exponentially each and every day STILL.  When will the honeymoon be over?!

  

Today in Catholic History:


†   660 – Death of Eligius/Eloy, French bishop of Tournay-Noyon; saint
†   772 – Pope Adrian I elected to Papacy
†   800 – Charlemagne judges the accusations against Pope Leo III in the Vatican.
†   1521 – Death of Pope Leo X, [Giovanni de’ Medici], Italian Pope (1513-21), at age 45 (b. 1475)
†   1580 – Death of Giovanni Morone, Italian cardinal (b. 1509)
†   1581 – Death of Edmund Campion, English Jesuit (martyred) (b. 1540)
†   1581 – Death of Ralph Sherwin, English Catholic saint (b. 1550)
†   1581 – Death of Alexander Briant, English saint (b. around 1556)
†   1830 – Death of Pope Pius VIII (b. 1761)
†   1989 – USSR Pres Mikhail S Gorbachev meets Pope John Paul II at the Vatican
†   Feast Day: St Eligius

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Franciscans are dedicated to the care of creation, seeing all creatures as brothers and sisters.

   

“Saints Francis and Clare had a relational understanding of creation. All creatures, from the smallest to “our Sister, Mother Earth,” were sisters and brothers, part of the very family of God.  Because of this, Francis was named the patron saint of ecology by Pope John Paul II.  Following this tradition, St. Bonaventure developed a theological and spiritual vision that acknowledged all creation as emanating from the goodness of God, existing as a “footprint” of God, and leading us back to God if we are able to “read” nature properly. He spoke of creation as the first book that God wrote.”

“This is the royal dignity which the Lord Jesus assumed when he became poor for us that he might enrich us by his want and would make us truly poor in spirit, as heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven. I do not wish to relinquish this royal dignity.”  St. Bonaventure, Major Legend, Chapter VII

(From the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) website:
http://www.franciscanaction.org)

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus feeding and healing many on a mountain.

 

29 Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there.  30 Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.  They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.  31 The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.  32 Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.”  33 The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?”  34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”  “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”  35 He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.  36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  37 They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.  (NAB Matthew 15:29-37)

 

The mountain is a “classic” place for encounters with God throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  Many centuries prior to this event encountered in today’s Gospel, Isaiah prophesized in Chapter 25:6-9 that on a mountain the Lord “will provide for ALL peoples.”  He will feed, heal, and destroy death.  On this mountain, Jesus Christ gives love, joy, hope, peace, a purpose, and freedom; to heal and energize all of us – – with LEFTOVERS!! 

This is not the story of the feeding of the five thousand as found in Matthew 14:13-21.  What makes this one different from the former is that Jesus is taking the initiative by summoning the disciples.  Also different is the numbers of the crowd: 4000 men versus 5000 men in the former story.  Finally, the crowd was with Jesus for three days, seven loaves were multiplied, and seven baskets of fragments remained after all had eaten to satisfaction. 

Here is another example in support of Jesus’ healing ministry.  Our divine physician made many house calls by travelling to those in need.  Many people who were in good physical shape, who were maimed, and who were sick and/or injured sought out Jesus.  He not only healed the physical body, He healed the spiritual soul as well.

Many of the healed people in this Gospel reading are possibly Gentiles.  Through Jesus’ ministry they became part of a reassembled Israel.  Jesus came for ALL, not just two of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, Pagan, etc.; does not matter to God.  They are all His creation and equally allowed the opportunity to gain entrance to God’s almighty kingdom.

In verse 31, the people “glorified the God of Israel.”  In writing this Matthew was obviously influenced by Isaiah 29:23:

“When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel.”

How prophetic is this verse from centuries before Jesus.  I love how the Old Testament is in the New, and the New Testament fulfills the Old.

Jesus had “pity for the crowd”  Can you possibly picture someone being so mesmerized, enthralled, and captivated in someone’s speech, abilities, and presence that they are with Him “for three days and have nothing to eat.”  I picture heaven just this way.  Motivated by a strong and loving compassion for all the people with Him, Jesus took the initiative to care for them: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

They were in a desert!  There were no 7-Elevens, Quick Trips, or grocery stores in the area.  Where could they get bread and fish?  This part of the story is reminiscent of the feeding of the Israelites with manna during the Exodus (Exodus 16:4-12):

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.  Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.  On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  So Moses and Aaron told all the Israelites, “At evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, as he heeds your grumbling against him.  But what are we that you should grumble against us?  When the LORD gives you flesh to eat in the evening,” continued Moses, “and in the morning your fill of bread, as he heeds the grumbling you utter against him, what then are we? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the LORD.”  Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole Israelite community: Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.”  When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!  The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.” 

The provision of manna in the wilderness is a precursor to this event in the New Testament.  Jesus is now providing HIS “bread” in abundance for the hungry to those who seek Him.

Why “seven” loaves of bread?  It is a very interesting number for the “Bread of Life” that Jesus gives to all in His presence.  In the Hebrew, seven is “shevah.  It is from the root “savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of.  So, the meaning of the word “seven” is referring to a fullness and completeness; a goodness and perfection.  Nothing can be added to Jesus’ life sustaining gift to us, or taken from it, without damaging it.

In verse 36, Jesus “Gave thanks.”  He said a blessing, probably similar to the blessing found in Matthew 14:19: 

“… and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.” 

Eucharist is a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.”  This “thanksgiving” was a blessing of God for His benefits and graces.

The taking of the bread, – – “Jesus’ bread of life,” – – saying a blessing, and finally breaking and sharing His bread of life with His disciples to further share with the crowds matches up with the actions of Jesus’ praying over the bread at the Last Supper found in Matthew 26:26.  

What I think is more interesting is Matthew’s not mentioning Jesus dividing the fish.  I wonder if this was done on purpose, as “fish” is not part of the Eucharistic meal.  I believe what Matthew DID NOT say in this respect is perhaps more significant than the breaking of the bread.

“They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over – – seven baskets full.”    That number of fullness and completion – – seven – – again, and in the same reading.  There is apparently a special message that Mathew is trying to get across to His readers.  The number seven in this context may recall the nations of Canaan (Acts 13:19):

“When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance”

 and the first seven Deacons (Acts 6:5):

“The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.”

The leftovers from this profound event were greater than “seven” times the amount food they started with.  God’s promises and graces are immeasurable.  When He gives, He gives in great abundance!!  You will be “satisfied” to “fullness and completeness” (that #7) in Jesus’ Eucharistic meal!!

Earlier, I proposed that many Gentiles were present, and were healed in these three days in Jesus’ presence.  Thus, they have been included and integrated into the fullness and completeness of Israel – – God’s chosen kingdom.  In other words, all are invited into God’s Kingdom!

Jesus fulfilled all their profound hungers and human weaknesses.  Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to give what is needed to live.  Jesus’ reveals a sign of God’s kingdom, an expression of His power, and His divine and intense mercy and love for all His creation.  When God gives, he gives in abundance!!  He gives us more than we deserve!  Have you thanked Him?  NEVER underestimate the love, power, and graces of God in your lives.  He is always very generous!!

 

Psalms 23:1-6

“A psalm of David”

 

“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength.  You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.  Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.  You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.  Amen”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed John of Vercelli (c. 1205-1283)

 

John was born near Vercelli in northwest Italy in the early 13th century. Little is known of his early life. He entered the Dominican Order in the 1240s and served in various leadership capacities over the years. Elected sixth master general of the Dominicans in 1264, he served for almost two decades.

Known for his tireless energy and his commitment to simplicity, John made personal visits—typically on foot—to almost all the Dominican houses, urging his fellow friars to strictly observe the rules and constitutions of the Order.

He was tapped by two popes for special tasks. Pope Gregory X enlisted the help of John and his fellow Dominicans in helping to pacify the States of Italy that were quarreling with one another. John was also called upon to draw up a framework for the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. It was at that council that he met Jerome of Ascoli (the man who would later become Pope Nicholas IV), then serving as minister general of the Franciscans. Some time later the two men were sent by Rome to mediate a dispute involving King Philip III of France. Once again, John was able to draw on his negotiating and peacemaking skills.

Following the Second Council of Lyons, Pope Gregory selected John to spread devotion to the name of Jesus. John took the task to heart, requiring that every Dominican church contain an altar of the Holy Name; groups were also formed to combat blasphemy and profanity.

Toward the end of his life John was offered the role of patriarch of Jerusalem, but declined. He remained Dominican master general until his death.

Comment:

The need for peacemakers is certainly as keen today as in the 10th century! As followers of Jesus, John’s role falls to us. Each of us can do something to ease the tensions in our families, in the workplace, among people of different races and creeds.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

   
   

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 1 & 2 of 26:

 

The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.

In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

 

 

The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.

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