Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?"

This Sunday - 17th Sunday in Ordinary time, July 29, 2012 - begins five weeks of consecutive readings from Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St. John. This chapter is known for its Eucharistic emphasis, for it begins with this account of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish and continues with the Lord’s famous “Bread of Life” discourse. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

This story of the feeding of the five thousand is common to all four Gospels—in fact it is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels—today we have the incident as described by St John. When Jesus saw the large crowd that had followed Him, He said, "Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?" Philip answered, in effect, that he did not know. Another disciple said to Jesus, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what good are these for so many?"

Sharing the Boy's Gifts

Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that last Sunday we asked the question: What do you do when people come with so many needs? Today Jesus gives us the first part of the answer: organize them. So Andrew works the crowd looking for food. And he finds that nameless child. Better said, the boy finds Andrew. He offers five thoroughly squashed slices of bread and two suspicious looking fish. This was to be the boy's own lunch. Let the record show, Fr. James Gilhooley said, that the kid was giving not out of his surplus but all he had.

Jesus does not spiritualize the hunger of the poor, or postpone His love for them to the next world. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains that Jesus wanted to work the miracle of feeding the huge number of people who are hungry. But the miracle will not happen without someone to provide five barley loaves and two fish. The miracle of the gospel therefore is as much about the boy as it is about Jesus.

And today the boy is each of us who has something to offer the Lord. Logic and human reason often say to us, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish." But Jesus asks that even such meager provisions as these, together with the trust and generosity of disciples of every age, be stretched to their limits. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it's just like Jesus is telling us, "Let's see. It will never be enough until we start to give it away."

Feed the Hungry

In this gospel, it is the Christ who mentions that this exhausted mob must be hungry. Once again, He proves He is interested not only in life after death but also life before death. He wants every mother's child of us to have three full meals in the here and now. He wants nobody to go to bed hungry.

But how do we feed the hungry? Even if we are convinced, and perhaps even obsessed, by Jesus command to do this, how, in fact, can it be done today? The world is a big place and millions upon millions of people live in hunger. So, Fr. Ron Rolheiser asks, just how can you live out Christ's command to feed the hungry, given the complexities of today's world? Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says the miracle of the loaves and fish is a miracle of our sharing the gifts of Christ. He gives us plenty for all that we are called upon to feed. Our union with him satisfies the hungry hearts of our families, our neighbors, and our world.

My faith is weak. My love is limited. Your faith is weak. Your love is limited. But, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino assures us, there are no limits with Jesus. We seek His Holy Presence, and He gives us His Body and Blood to take within us. And then the real hunger begins. The more I eat of Him,
the hungrier I get. I am hungry for Christ. You are hungry for Christ. The more we receive Him, the more we want Him.

The Institution of the Eucharist

Perhaps in their excitement, hoping to see a miracle, the people left their homes forgetting to bring food for the journey. Perhaps they did not think to worry about satisfying their hunger for bread so overwhelmed were they by a hunger for signs and wonders.

In verse four of the Gospel we read: It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover. John is the only one of the Evangelists who links this incident to the Passover. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains that this is absolutely key to the understanding of this text in John’s version. We can therefore come to the conclusion that the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper did not just pop up out of the blue. There are strong hints such as these which the disciples surely only realised when they looked back on them afterwards.

Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS explains further how Jesus exemplified the true Eucharistic rhythm of life. “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish and gave them as much as they wanted.” This is what we are called to do: “To take our lives both poor and wealthy; strong and weak, give thanks to God, and share this with others”. Now the crowd has become a true community, everyone sharing each one’s wealth and poverty, weakness and strength.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us also how Jesus said, “no one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall thirst again.” This is the heart of Jesus. What He did then for the large crowd He continues to do for us. Father Cusick says this promise begins now in an anticipation of glory by receiving the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, the Living Bread. But our relationship with the Lord will fall short, and our happiness will remain incomplete, as long as we fail to go from the signs to the reality they signify. He is really and truly present and we do indeed receive him whole and entire in the sacred host.

Therefore, we are all to keep this Lord before our eyes. The God who gives lasting peace. Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us that this is our hope. This is our call. This is the “barley loaf,” the “one bread” we will receive in our very hands on Sunday. One bread, one body, one Lord of all.

Church, Politics, Social Media and Spiritual Warfare

Throughout the post-Vatican II years, the U.S. bishops’ conference has typically defended the welfare state and not infrequently urged its expansion. But, George Weigel observes, things are changing. A new generation of bishops is not quite as sure as its predecessors that “social justice” always equals “government program.”

So is the Church conservative or liberal? Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas says Catholicism is neither. The Church is committed to proclaiming the saving message of Jesus Christ contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture which flow from one sacred deposit of the word of God. Our Church contains the fullness of truth and it’s up to us to share that truth with others. And when we do, Fr. Robert Barron advises to never be reluctant to use the weapons—and the healing balms—that our Lord has given us. Starting with the Sacraments.

And what about work, "good work" to be exact? Paul Dion, STL opines that not all of hard work is good work. He thinks "good work" is only the type of work where the common good reigns. He adds that in an atmosphere of fraternity, even "hard work" is good work.

Which brings us to Social Media. Gary Zimak observes how we share music videos, pictures of our lunch, we’ll gripe about the weather, comment on our favorite sports teams, but are often afraid to share anything about our faith. Originally, he had the same fear, but praying for an increase in the gift of fortitude has helped him a lot! Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using social media to evangelize.

Misfortune, God's Will & Forgiveness

This week we witnessed how tragedy struck the community of Aurora, CO. In a case like the one that confronts us this weekend, it is not difficult to find victims. This act was so monstrous and so calamitous that there are many victims of it across the world, even among us. Yes, even we are, to some degree, victims of this ambush by Lucifer and his gang.

So why does God allow misfortune to fall on us? Dr. Taylor Marshall tries to explain. When hardships come, he says Saint Claude instructs us not to fall into self-pity, but to fall "at the feet of the Saviour and implore His grace to bear your trial with fortitude and patience. A man who has been badly wounded does not, if he is wise chase after his assailant, but makes straight for a doctor who may save his life." Let's not forget to Love, not to resent. Paul, Dion, STL reminds us to love through the hurt so that we can take on a share of the hurt of the afflicted families. Vengeance and resentment will only suck God's life out of our being.

Already, we see signs of hope. One of the victims in the Aurora theater shooting said Wednesday he has forgiven the suspect in the rampage and hopes to speak with him someday. “Of course, I forgive him with all my heart. When I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him — he’s just a lost soul right now,” said Pierce O’Farrill. “I want to see him sometime. The first thing I want to say to him is ‘I forgive you,’ and the next is, ‘Can I pray for you?’”

We also bring you two more stirring stories of forgiveness. First we have the story of Arturo Martinez-Sanchez whos says he had no choice but to forgive the man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing his wife and young daughter in an April 2012 attack that also left him seriously wounded. Then we share the story of Ron McClary. Debilitated by multiple sclerosis, he lay on a stretcher yesterday at Holy Family church. He tried to speak as the widow of the Columbus police officer he shot in 1979 placed her hand on his arm. As he struggled, she stopped him. “I forgive you,” she said, almost inaudibly.

The ABC's of Being Catholic

When is the best time to talk to children about religion? Finding the right way and even time can be challenging, but soon parents can count on a new resource to teach toddlers about the ABC's of being Catholic-literally. Through videos and audio files, a business named AB Catholic aims to teach toddlers about faith. Complex terms that are sometimes difficult to explain are easily and visually presented to grab kids attention. It's a way for parents and adults in general to engage children in the Catholic faith from early on.

Micah Murphy shares a few more lessons that other Catholic parents could use. These are especially helpful if you are expecting for the first time. She shares her article aptly called "Lying to Your Kids & 7 Other Catholic Parenting Notes."

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
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