Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Catholic History Today
- · Joke of the Day
- · Sundays Gospel Reading
- · Gospel Reflection
- · Reflection Prayer
- · Catholic Apologetics
- · A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- · Reflection on an article of the OFS Rule
I am asking for some input from my readers in regard to my blog format. It is trying for me to amass all the information I needed for each blog normally posted on Saturdays. For this reason, I have decided to change my format somewhat. Starting next week, I will be splitting my blog sections between Wednesdays and Saturdays. On Wednesdays, I will post the following sections:
- · (on occasion) Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Catholic History Today
- · Catholic Apologetics
- · A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
- · Reflection on an article of the OFS Rule
Then, on Saturdays, I will continue to post these sections:
- · Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- · Joke of the Day
- · Sundays Gospel Reading
- · Gospel Reflection
- · Reflection Prayer
Please let me know your opinions on this matter, and if I should add or totally delete sections from my blog. After all, this blog is as much yours as it is mine, because it is for YOU.
Do not forget to vote on Tuesday, August 7th, (in Missouri at least). Although a “Party Primary” election, local and state issues may also be on the ballot. Voting is a “right” every eligible American should be proud to participate in as a citizen of this great “Godly” country.
† 1579 – Death of Stanislaus Hosius, Polish Catholic cardinal (b. 1504)
† 1900 – Death of James Augustine Healy, black Roman Catholic bishop, dies at 80
† 1912 – Birth of Abbé Pierre, French Catholic priest (d. 2007)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Today’s reflection: Jesus teaches the crowds that He is the “bread of life.” We know who He is: the question I’m supposing is, “Who Are WE??!!” Ask yourself this question: “Why are you seeking out Jesus?”
(NAB John 6:24–35) 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” 28 So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 So Jesus said to them, “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. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
Last Sunday, we heard about Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 with 5 loaves of barley bread and two fish, leaving enough leftover to fill twelve wicker baskets. Between last Sunday’s Gospel and today’s Gospel is the short story of the disciples leaving for Bethsaida for Capernaum by boat as Jesus leaves for “the mountain alone” (John 6:15). After an unknown amount of time (probably several hours at least):
“the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus” (John 6:24).
This Sunday we continue to read from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, but not in continuity with last Sunday’s Gospel. What we are not told (and what the “crowd” did not see) is the story between these two readings: Jesus’ walking on water (cf., John 16-21). This event will be explored, and possibly revealed, in my reflection blog at a later date.
In today’s gospel, upon discovering the absence of Jesus and His closest of disciples, the crowd went in search for them:
“When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus” (John 6:24).
Upon finding their “New Moses” (please refer to my reflection from last week), they inquired of Jesus how He arrived there, and arrived there BEFORE them (since they knew Jesus went into the mountains):
“When they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (John 6:25)
In the dialogue that follows, Jesus unfolds for us the gift of “Himself”, which He gives to us in and through the Holy Eucharist.
The crowd had come by boat, the fastest way possible for them, knowing Jesus would have had to walk to Capernaum since there were no other boats available for Him to use. However, Jesus’ answer was NOT the one they were expecting to hear:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (John 6:25).
“Amen, Amen” – – Interesting words indeed! A little trivia time: did you know there are 25 “Amen’s” in John’s Gospel alone (with only 52 “Amen’s” total in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels)? So, why do you suppose Jesus decided to start a sentence with a word never before used at the beginning of a statement? These initial “Amen’s” are truly unique to Jesus, and are unparalleled, otherwise unknown in any other Hebrew writings. Why (?) – – the reason is that “Amen” – – at the beginning of a sentence – – does not refer to the words of a previous speaker as one would assume (I bet His English teacher was mad at Him for such usage!). I believe Jesus used the combined (and amplified) words “Amen, Amen” to introduce a new thought, a new way for gaining entrance to God’s kingdom on earth and in heaven. In this case, the new way for gaining entrance to God’s kingdom is in seeing and believing His signs of His divine nature.
Jesus goes on to say in today’s reading:
“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (John 6:27).
Jesus is telling all who come to Him (then and now) to change their priorities, both in life and in death. Our secularized and materialistic world will someday perish. I am sure we have all heard the axiom, “You can’t take it with you”. This axiom references the materialistic, worldly items we accrue though life. What you WILL take with you on your day of judgment is the way – – the “how” – – you USED these materialistic items, and the “way and how” of using ALL of God’s graces, powers, and “Words” given to you freely and FREE! (Jesus has already paid the cost!!)
“This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:50, 51, 54, 58).
Only through Jesus Christ’s grace, can you, I, or anyone else, enter into God the Father’s Kingdom. Only through Jesus Christ are we provided the life-sustaining food (and water) which endures and gives eternal life:
“Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
The above verse (John 4:13) gives a new meaning to Christ being present – – truly and fully – – in each morsel and drop of both “species” of the Eucharist: the body and blood of the Risen Jesus Christ!
Having heard what Jesus just said, the crowd wanted to know:
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” (John 6:28).
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent.” (John 6:29)
That just seems to be a little too simple, maybe even cunning or crafty, in the simplicity of His “Words”. Many believe that ALL you have to do is simply “believe Jesus is the ‘one’ sent by God”. However, there is a “little” more to this statement than just “believing”; for to believe, one must also accept the premise that Jesus is truly “the one sent” as prophesized in Jewish scripture. In reality, in order to believe Jesus is truly “the one sent”, you must also believe ALL that the prophets had to say about this “one sent”.
Image from the following website:
In believing, the crowd would be accepting that Jesus IS (and STILL IS) fulfilling EVERY prophecy made from the entirety of the great Prophets of old; where and who He would be born to, His work and mission, how He would die, His resurrection, and His ascension into heaven. Through Jesus Christ, these prophecies of a “kingly” and “suffering” Savior Messiah had arrived to this crowd (and to US!)!
This crowd wanted even further proof from what they had already seen – – as a perfect sign in itself – – with the multiplication of the bread and fish. So, the crowd says to Jesus:
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” (John 6:30).
Haven’t they seen ENOUGH to prove who Jesus truly and fully was (and is)? Oh, those of so little faith!! Then again, they were not the first ones to ask for proof from Jesus regarding His divine nature. They were not the first to ask for, nay, demand a sign. So, when:
“The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven. (Matthew 16:1);
Then, Jesus responds thusly:
An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ ” (Matthew 16:4).
Luke further elaborated on this:
“While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation’” (Luke 11:29–30).
The “Son of Man” was a “sign” to this generation (and ours) as Jonah was a “sign” to the Ninevites of his generation. Jonah is the “sign”, and his message was repentance, and, looking at and seeing the supernatural dimension of their lives. Jesus is the “sign”, and His message was also that of repentance, and, looking at and seeing the supernatural divine nature of the “Son of Man”.
The Jews of the Exodus story demanded a “sign”, demanding bread from Moses – – and God gave them “manna”. The crowd demanded from Jesus what the Israelites demanded of Moses – – a “sign” – – the “bread from heaven”:
“Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (John 6:31).
For the Jews of His day, Jesus is declaring that He IS the prophesized “sign”, the “bread from heaven” as revealed in Exodus:
“Then the LORD said to Moses: I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. … But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. … Moses then told Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put a full omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to keep it for your future generations.’” (Exodus 16:4-34)
This “bread from heaven” – – the “manna” – – was a divine sign, a gift from God the Father to His children. This “manna” is similar to a natural substance, still found today in small quantities, on the Sinai Peninsula, and is associated with the honey-like resin from the tamarisk tree. However, God’s “manna” is clearly an extraordinary, supernatural sign of God’s providence toward His “chosen” people, who needed His help. Per Jewish tradition, the “manna” – – the “food” from heaven – – was (and is) expected to reappear miraculously at Passover, during “the last days”. Christian tradition regards the “manna” of Exodus as a type of the Eucharist which Jesus fulfilled and is still fulfilling today.
In verse 6:31, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat”, Jesus now starts referencing a single, specific, part of the prayer He taught to His disciples during the “Our Father” prayer:
“Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
“Give us today our daily bread: Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to remind us of the love God showed for us and to help us understand and appreciate everything that He did or said or suffered.”
Jesus Christ IS OUR DAILY BREAD!! (I can’t say this fact enough!) Through Jesus in the Eucharist, we are reminded and showed to understand and appreciate the true, and full totality of His life, death, resurrection, ascension, promises, hope, love, trust, and return – – in our lives NOW!!. HOLY WOW!!! HOLY AWESOME!!!
The “manna” of the Exodus story prefigured, and pointed to, the superabundance of the unique “bread” of the Eucharist which Jesus gave to His disciples on the eve of His sacrifice. The “bread” Jesus offers His disciples still sustains us not only on our journey to His heavenly paradise; it also gives us the abundant supernatural life of God Himself, sustaining us now and for all eternity.
When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ Himself, who makes us sharers in His body and blood, thus partaking in His divine life. The Holy Eucharist is the “supernatural food” of healing – – for both body and soul – – and gives us strength for our journey to the paradise of God’s heavenly banquet (cf., Hebrews 12:18-24).
After initially answering the crowds question for a “sign”, Jesus then directly and unequivocally says:
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35).
I believe Jesus could not have been much clearer. The people present certainly knew Jesus was referring to the prophecies in Isaiah and Amos among others:
“All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what does not satisfy? Only listen to me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Pay attention and come to me; listen, that you may have life. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, the steadfast loyalty promised to David.” (Isaiah 55:1–3);
“See, days are coming—oracle [revelation] of the Lord GOD— when I will send a famine upon the land: Not a hunger for bread, or a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. … On that day, beautiful young women and young men shall faint from thirst” (Amos 8:11–13).
Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true “bread of heaven” which can satisfy the deepest hunger, thirst, and longing every human being experiences in life. We must believe in Christ, listen to His “Word”, pay attention to Him – – and most importantly – – “come to” Him in the Eucharist!!
In today’s Gospel, there are four exchanges between Jesus and the crowd. In the first, the crowd, after finding Jesus already at Capernaum, before them, asks a very “matter of fact” question: “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus replies by identifying their motivation in pursuing Him: their being fed earthly, worldly, bread. Jesus acknowledges their physical feeding, yet challenges them to see beyond their material needs. Instead, they (and we) should be seeking out Jesus because He can give eternal life!
As the second dialogue begins, it seems that the crowd might be on their way to accepting Jesus and His mission. They ask: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus replies that the “works of God” is that they “BELIEVE” (have faith in) the one sent from God.
Notice, Jesus is clearly declaring that He IS the One sent by God the Father – – the “New Moses”!!
However, in the third dialogue, the crowd reveals their inability to see Jesus’ true identity; the crowd reveals their “blindness”. They ask Jesus for a sign so that they might know Jesus is truly sent from God the Father. This request for a sign sounds strange since Jesus had just fed more than 5000 people, and for the most part, the SAME people now asking for a “sign” again. I must add, what more is expected from Jesus to prove His true divine nature? (Maybe He needs to raise someone from the dead! Um … wait; He does, including Himself!)
The crowd cannot see beyond the surface of the “sign” Jesus gave in the multiplication of the loaves and fish. By their description, they identify Jesus with Moses. So, just as Moses gave the people “manna” in the desert, the crowd wanted Jesus to give them a sign so they will know Jesus was truly from God. They were looking to identify Jesus as a “prophet” without realizing “God the Son” was standing before them.
As God “fulfilled” the crowd’s ancestors’ needs in the desert, so God still provides food for eternal life (and still provides NOW TODAY)! In the bread which they received from Jesus, they received physical nourishment as well as spiritual nourishment. Jesus wanted the crowd then (and wants us today) to see beyond the surface – – to the One who provides true nourishment, God the Father through God the Son working through the Holy Spirit, even through material things.
The conclusion of the dialogue also further reveals the crowd’s “blindness”: they CANNOT “see” the divine Christ in their midst. They asked for what Jesus had just told them they have found: “Sir, give us this bread always” (verse 34). Jesus answers plainly that He Himself IS the “Bread of Life” they are seeking; the Bread of Life who will satisfy every hunger and thirst. We can understand this fact better when we remember that God revealed His name to the “chosen” people of Israel as “I am” – – “Yahweh”. Jesus claims this name – – “I AM” – – for Himself!! Jesus’ claim [to fame] will bring many into His kingdom. On the other hand, Jesus’ claim – – though it is true – – will have a negative effect as well, for some. In the weeks ahead, in the Gospel readings at Mass, we will see how this claim offended others in the crowd.
Jesus offers a new relationship with God, a new life – – a life of sacrificial love, selfless service, and the forgiveness of others – – corresponding to God’s mercy, goodness and loving kindness. This new life is a life of holiness, purity, and truth, corresponding to God’s holiness. This new life is a life of obedience and trust, corresponding to God’s offer of abundant life, peace, and happiness. This is the true definition of “work” which Jesus directs us to do, and enables us to perform through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am truly hungry for the “bread” which comes down from heaven; and I thirst for the “Words” of everlasting life in, with, and through God!! (What about you?)
Sometimes, we don’t recognize the wonderful things our Trinitarian God has done for us in ours, and in others, lives. Sometimes, out of habit or need, we simply forget and ask for further evidence of His love and care. Pray that God, in these times, will remove our “blindness” so that we can receive and appreciate – – with thanks, praise, and love – – all the wonderful things which God truly accomplishes in our lives.
St. Francis said, “Who are You, Lord, and who am I?” The “manna” from heaven and John’s supernatural Christology (nature, character, and actions of Jesus Christ) draws out the theme of nourishment from God, and especially, the new life we receive through Christ, who is the “Bread of Life”. How awesome and wonderful is it that we ALL have a Trinitarian God who is close to us – – truly one of us – – through the “Risen” human flesh of Jesus, and as near and physically present as in the Holy Eucharist. We need to come to realize that the importance of the immanent nature (God existing in, and extending into, all parts of the created universe) of God is truly and absolutely important for our daily spiritual lives!!
The second half of Saint Francis’ question above, “Who am I?” is as equally important as the first half, “Who are You, Lord”. I might rephrase this question as: “Who am I that I can relate to my (and your) immanent God and His call to freedom and a new life?” Like the Israelites, we actually sometimes desire a bondage to our personal addictions or societal failings. Let us remember that we do have choices. We can choose to feed on the “Bread of Life”; or we can feed on the “dry bones” of an exploited, materialistic, and secularized human existence without everlasting life. (Here Fido, you take the bone and I’ll take the bread!)
It is interesting for me that, often, we are not only complacent with oppressive situations and rewards in life, we are also even sometimes “grateful” for the mere “scraps” we receive in life. We need to remember that in times of trials and tribulations, the “scraps” of worldly materialistic items and conveniences are no match for the overwhelmingly bounty of God – – through the “Bread of Life”, Jesus Christ!
Recall the wonderful gifts God has given you, and the remarkable deeds God has accomplished in and through you. Remember, it is truly important to stop and count our blessings. We can all easily miss recognizing all of the wonderful things God has done (and does) for us on a daily basis. Recall that we have this gift from Jesus – – in the Eucharist – – TODAY and FOREVER!! (and even in heaven!) Thank God for all He had (and has) given to us.
“Bread of Life Prayer”
“Bread of Life, you feed
us through word and sacrament.
The bread we share
of your presence with
us. Strengthen us for
service, that seeds we sow
in fertile places
might grow and flourish,
that food we share
might nourish and revive,
that words we share
in our daily walk
might glorify your name.
Bread of Life, you feed us
through word and
sacrament that we might feed others.
Blessed be your name! Amen.”
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.
“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3) RSV.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3) KJV.
“But of the Son he says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. … And, ‘Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands’” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) RSV.
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. … And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:8, 10) KJV.
A Franciscan’s Saint [Commemoration] of the Day: Dedication of the Church of St. Mary Major Basilica
First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity.
St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centers of the Church. St. John Lateran represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark; St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life.
One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5.
Theological debate over Christ’s nature as God and man reached fever pitch in Constantinople in the early fifth century. The chaplain of Bishop Nestorius began preaching against the title Theotokos, “Mother of God,” insisting that the Virgin was mother only of the human Jesus. Nestorius agreed, decreeing that Mary would henceforth be named “Mother of Christ” in his see. The people of Constantinople virtually revolted against their bishop’s refutation of a cherished belief. When the Council of Ephesus refuted Nestorius, believers took to the streets, enthusiastically chanting, “Theotokos! Theotokos!”
“From the earliest times the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, in whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs. Accordingly, following the Council of Ephesus, there was a remarkable growth in the cult of the People of God towards Mary, in veneration and love, in invocation and imitation…” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 66).
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)
05. Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.
06. They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.