Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Today in Catholic History
- · Joke of the Day
- · Today’s Gospel Reading
- · Gospel Reflection
- · Reflection Prayer
- · Catholic Apologetics
- · A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- · Reflection on part of the OFS Rule
Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions For August, 2012
For prisoners, that they may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity.
Missionary Intention (Youth Witness to Christ):
For young people, that they may be called to follow Christ, and willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel “to the ends of the earth”.
I just finished reading a new book on prayer (for me at least). I conscientiously try to read at least one or two books on prayer, church history, liturgy, peace and justice, the various religious orders, or so on each month. My all time favorite book (not including the Holy Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church) is “7 Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn. I have literally given away at least 50 copies, at my own expense, in the past few years.
This “new” book, which I have just completed, is by Bruce Wilkinson and David Kopp, titled:
“Prayer of Jabez: Break Through the Blessed Life”
I was awed and captivated by this inspiring, scripturally based, and motivating book of faith and prayer. Though it is not a book written by a Roman Catholic, it was truly a work of inspiration from the Holy Spirit. It is an easy book to read and not full of what I call “those 10 dollar words” which have a tendency to turn people off.
Jabez is the name of a person listed in the long list of people from the genealogy of the kings’ tribe of Judah. The author of 1 Chronicles paused in this long list to give Jabez a place of honor in this very long list of Kings and their associated lineage. Jabez prays to God for blessing and was answered. It is said God answered his every prayer when using his unique prayer:
Please do not take my word for the great message of this book. Take some time and either get on-line and search for this book, check it out from the library (if available), or buy a copy (you will eventually anyway; you won’t want to read it just once!), and READ IT. It is transformative and will “enlarge” your capabilities.
† 1099 – Death of Pope Urban II [Odo van Lagery], French Pope (1088-99)(b. 1042)
† 1179 – Lando Sittino proclaimed (anti-)pope Innocent III
† 1644 – Death of Pope Urban VIII [Maffeo Barberini], Pope (1623-44), (b. 1568)
† 1968 – Pope Paul VI, in an encyclical entitled “Humanae Vitae” (Of Human Life), declares any artificial forms of birth control prohibited
† Feasts/Memorials: Saint Eugenius, king [Magdeburg]; Saint Felix I, pope, and companions (Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix, (siblings)), martyrs; Saint Ladislas, king, confessor [Hungary]; Saint Lupus, bishop of Troyes, confessor [Cologne, Constance, Metz, Paris, France]; Saint Olaf II of Norway, king of Norway, martyr, patron of woodcarvers [Sleswig, Scandinavia] – celebrated in Norway as Olsok (St. Olav’s Day); Saint Pantaleon [Paris]; Saint Beatrice of Nazareth; Saint Martha, host of Christ, sister of Lazarus, patron saint of cooks, domestic staff and dieticians; Saint Serafina
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Today’s reflection: Jesus feeds the crowd of more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish (and they were hungry – – physically and spiritually). Christ physically fed them with food in the form of bread and wine. Scripturally, Christ was revealing (and still reveals today) the special nature of His love and power.
(NAB John 6:1-15) 1 After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee [of Tiberias]. 2 A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish feast of Passover was near. 5 When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little [bit].” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. 12 When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” 13 So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. 14 When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” 15 Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Over the past two Sundays, in Mark’s Gospel, we heard how Jesus sent His disciples to share in His mission on earth. We leave Mark’s Gospel for the next several weeks and instead present events from the Gospel of John, starting with a great fish story. Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is presented as a sign of His authority and divinity, signifying the multiplication miracle as a sharing of Jesus’ “Body and Blood”: the true Eucharist. For this reason, John’s sixth chapter is sometimes called the “Bread of Life Discourse”.
In many important ways, John’s Gospel uses the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes to teach about the Eucharist. Like the Last Supper, this miracle occurs near the time of the Jewish feast of Passover. Also, Jesus’ language in today’s reading is similar to the language He used at “the Last Supper” as reported in the three Synoptic Gospels:
“Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them” (John 6:11).
John’s description of this event anticipates the Messianic banquet of heaven, with the crowd reclining and all hungers satisfied, with an abundance remaining. This connection of Jesus and the Messianic banquet is further amplified by the response of the crowd, who wants to make Jesus a “king”. John, through today’s reading, is teaching us that each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are truly anticipating the eternal banquet of heaven.
1. Turning water into wine in Cana (John 2:1-11);
2. Healing an official’s son in Capernaum (John 4:46-54);
3. Healing an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (John 5:1-18);
4. Feeding the 5,000 near the Sea of Galilee (John 6:5-14);
5. Walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee (John 6:16-21);
6. Healing a blind man in Jerusalem (John 9:1-7); and:
7. Raising dead Lazarus in Bethany (John 11:1-45).
Today’s related sign (or miracle) is the ONLY “miracle” story found in all four Gospels (and occurring twice in the Gospels written by both Mark and Matthew). The principal reason for this sole “sign” being told in all four Gospels can be seen as an anticipation of both the “Holy Eucharist” and the “final banquet in the kingdom” and is the central core common belief among all disparate (different or distinct) Christians:
“I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven … I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” (Matthew 8:11; 26:29).
Today’s story not only looks forward, but backward as well: to the feeding of Israel in the desert, with the heavenly supplied manna, at the time of the Exodus (cf., Exodus 16). The feeding with “manna” was a miracle, which in some contemporary Jewish expectations would be repeated in the “Messianic age” (to come):
** “And it shall come to pass at that self-same time that the treasury of manna shall again descend from on high, and they will eat of it in those years, because these are they who have come to the consummation of time” (2 Baruch 29:8).
**(2 Baruch, “THE BOOK OF THE APOCALYPSE OF BARUCH THE SON OF NERIAH”, is a Jewish text believed to have been written in the late 1st century AD or early 2nd century AD, after the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD. It is attributed to the Biblical Baruch, and thus associated with our Old Testament. Yet, it is not regarded as scripture by Jews or by most Christian groups; however, it is included as part of the Bible of the Syriac Orthodox tradition.)
“A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barley loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people to eat.’ But his servant objected, ‘How can I set this before a hundred?’ Elisha again said, ‘Give it to the people to eat, for thus says the LORD: You will eat and have some left over.’ He set it before them, and when they had eaten, they had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.” (2 Kings 4:42–44).
The loaves of bread remind us that God the Father feeds and nourishes us, fulfilling our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs. So, the “loaves and fish” in today’s reading symbolize the “food” really available through Jesus, both physically and spiritually. The miracle of multiplication of the loaves of barley bread and fish truly signals the NEW Exodus; definitely having Eucharistic overtones meant for all of God’s people.
John’s Gospel notes a significant detail; the loaves of bread – – blessed and shared with the crowd – – are “barley loaves”, a food of the poor. So, the New Exodus and the Eucharist is given to us for Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, man and woman alike.
“The Jewish feast of Passover was near” (John 6:2).
The other two are found in the following two verses:
“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (John 2:13);
“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).
Taken from a literal viewpoint, these three specific “Passovers” prove that Jesus’ earthly ministry was at least two years in length chronologically.
In the Synoptic Gospels, the disciples take the initiative of asking about feeding the crowd. In John’s Gospel however, Jesus takes the initiative:
“He [Jesus] said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?’” (John 6:5)
“When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world’” (John 6:14)
However, this time, the Exodus will not be physical in nature necessarily, but spiritual instead. It won’t cost anyone money for this travel; it will only cost your life, given up to God instead.
“After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard” (Matthew 20:2).
So, for Jesus and the disciples to feed all the people present there on this mountain (or hill) – – the bare minimum: just “a little [bit]” – – would cost more than half a year’s wages for this ONE meal! Wow, that is even more than the taxes the IRS takes in today’s time (but barely)!!
This 10th verse relates “5000” men were present at this event:
“Jesus said, ‘Have the people recline.’ Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.” (John 6:10).
This number of 5000 only included adult males, and not females or children. I personally believe there were probably at least double that number present (anecdotally), making the true number somewhere in the area of 10 – 12 thousand actually present. That is a LOT of people Jesus preached to, taught to, and ultimately fed. An attendance of this magnitude of people – – present at one event – – is rare, only occurring within the Catholic faith at such major events such as a Pope’s visit, major conferences such as the annual youth conference, and Eucharistic conventions, wherein people travel from area to area and/or country to country. (Jesus, in Bethsaida where this event took place, truly had the first recognized “mega-church” EVER!!)
To change the subject (and miracle) slightly, please recall from the Lenten Season that John’s Gospel tells the story of “the Last Supper” differently than the three Synoptic Gospels. Instead of describing the meal and Jesus’ actions with the bread and cup, John describes how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. In both stories about the Eucharist in John’s Gospel – – the washing of the disciples’ feet and the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes – – Jesus (through John) teaches us that the true Eucharist is “an action” – – an active and living Sacrament of the Church. Our word “Eucharist” is actually taken from the Greek, describing an action: “to give thanks.” In the Eucharist, we are fed by Jesus Himself, AND we are also sent to serve others. In the Eucharist, “WE” are sent to serve the poorest among us!! (Whoa, how many knew this part of our faith? I bet, not many!)
Verse 14 of today’s reading talks about Jesus being “truly the Prophet” as prophesized by Moses:
“When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world’” (John 6:14).
They saw Jesus as being a prophet like Moses. Their seeing Jesus as the “prophet” reminds me of an earlier verse in John’s Gospel:
“So they asked him, ‘What are you then? Are you Elijah?’ And he said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’” (John 1:21).
So, is He (?), or isn’t He, the promised “prophet”?
“Now I am sending my messenger — he will prepare the way before me; And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; The messenger of the covenant whom you desire — see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 3:1; 4:5).
Finally, the last verse tells of the crowd wishing to make Jesus their “king” after this miraculous “multiplying” sign was revealed to them. However, it was not yet His time or place to be “king”. Jesus will not be the worldly “king” they expected!!
“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.’” (John18:36).
Jesus will be “king” of heaven, including His heaven on earth; however, not in a worldly, governmental, or materialistic way. He is a “king” of something much greater and grander than found in these human limits. He is the “king” of the paradise called heaven, constantly with God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the angels, the celestial court, and the community (communion) of saints. His kingdom is truly, totally, and fully AWESOME indeed!!!
To summarize, the story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes recalls a particular aspect of our Catholic Mass, the Eucharist. In today’s Gospel miracle, Jesus transforms a young boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish into a “meal” for ALL. In the offertory at our Mass, we present the fruits of our labors, represented by the bread and wine given to the priest at the altar. These gifts, given to us first by God as grain and fruit, are transformed and now returned to God by our offering of thanksgiving. God, in turn, transforms our gifts, making the gift of bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself. At the same time this happens, we also offer ourselves in a divine exchange (A transformation of us individually and in communion, at the very moment of the transubstantiation, by the miraculous changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ!). We are, in fact, transformed by the Eucharist we receive, thus making us fully-filled, with the grace of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ Himself, for a unique moment of time – – thus experiencing a supernatural heaven on earth here and now!! This is why the “Eucharist” is truly the “Source and Summit” of all our experiences we can have on this earth – – (and in heaven).
Later on in this sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus makes a claim only God the Father can make:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:32,35)
Jesus is the “true bread of heaven”, satisfying the deepest hunger we can ever experience. The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God AND His great care and kindness towards us. When God gives, He gives abundantly!! He gives more than we ever need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what is needed in their lives. God takes the little, the miniscule amount we have and multiplies it multifold for the good of others. God’s provision for you is enough to always share freely with others, especially those who lack!!
While inadequate food seems to be the cause of hunger, solutions are provided by a providential God, a God not of scarcity, but a God of abundance. With what people have to offer, insufficient as it may be – – through a willingness to share and trust in God’s compassionate power – – there will not only be enough, but more than enough to share. Our abundant God teaches us to give from our own abundance, even if it is only five loaves and two fish:
“The hand of the Lord feeds us; God answers all our needs” (cf., Psalm 145:16).
In today’s world, if we focus on scarcity, we will be tempted to hoard and not share. However, if we are generous in sharing with a neighbor in need, or with hungry people across the world, there IS enough for all to be fed. Of course we must address the challenges of poverty (along with that of violent conflicts, climate change, and refugees) in our society and world; however, at the same time, we need to trust in God’s abundance, care about the hungry in the world, and act to share what wehave with others.
In conclusion, I think we can all empathize with the disciples’ protests about feeding the humungous crowd when Jesus asked where food might be bought. I believe we can actually empathize with Philip’s and Andrew’s feeling of inadequacy as they assessed their meager and limited food resources, especially in the face of such great need. We sometimes share these same feelings when facing of our family’s and friends’ needs, in regards to our own material possessions, and our emotional and spiritual resources. For me, John is a Gospel of “hope” in times of inadequacies, which is all too frequent in today’s parenting/family life.
As Jesus made the “five barley loaves and two fish” sufficient to easily meet the needs of more than five thousand people (with leftovers), He also will work with what “we have” in order to provide for our personal needs. When we offer our efforts to God, we are asking Him to transform these efforts, and thus become more than adequate for the tasks and needs at hand in our lives. Think about the things you need, starting with the basics – – food, shelter, safety, and so on. Continue by naming other things needed to be happy and healthy – – time together with friends and family, cooperation, patience, and so on. Reflect that sometimes we can feel as if we don’t have enough of the time and things we need or want. Remember, Jesus provided plenty of food for the crowd with just five barley loaves and two fish. With faith, Jesus will take what we have and make it enough to satisfy and fill all our needs and the needs of others. While praying your morning prayers, ask for a personal blessing when offering to God the work and words of each day. Ask God to make fruitful your works and words (and ours) each and every day. (You can use the “Jabez Prayer” I mentioned at the beginning of this blog today as a good starting place.) (I hope you do!)
“O God, protector of those who hope in you,
without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance your mercy upon us
and grant that, with you as our ruler and guide
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
(Prayer for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time)
My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church. Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.
Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral. Oral tradition includes written forms. After all, it ALL started with oral tradition. Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Laying on of hands for healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.
All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30) RSV.
“I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) KJV.
“For in him [Christ] the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians. 2:9) RSV.
“For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians. 2:9) KJV.
Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death.
No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner.
Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “…[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a).
Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).
Scripture commentators point out that in writing his account of the raising of Lazarus, St. John intends that we should see Martha’s words to Mary before the resurrection of Lazarus as a summons that every Christian must obey. In her saying “The teacher is here and is asking for you,” Jesus is calling every one of us to resurrection—now in baptismal faith, forever in sharing his victory over death. And all of us, as well as these three friends, are in our own unique way called to special friendship with him.
“This great company of witnesses spurs us on to victory, to share their prize of everlasting glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Preface of Holy Men and Women I).
Patron Saint of: Housewives, waiters, waitresses
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)
In the name of the Lord!
Concerning Those Who Do Penance
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).
We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).
We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).
Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:
“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).