17th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B.
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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Elisha and the multiplying of the Loaves by Tintoretto c. 1577-78
A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing Elisha, the man of God, bread from the first-fruits, twenty barley loaves and fresh grain in the ear. ‘Give it to the people to eat,’ Elisha said. But his servant replied, ‘How can I serve this to a hundred men?’ ‘Give it to the people to eat’ he insisted for the Lord says this, “They will eat and have some over.”’ He served them; they ate and had some over, as the Lord had said.
Gospel: John 6:1-15
Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.
Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’
Feeding the multitudes by Bernardo Strozzi, early 17th century.
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, and the Gospel? After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
CONNECTING THE FIRST READING TO THE GOSPEL
In the first reading Elisha has twenty loaves to feed 100 people with only ‘some left over.’ In the gospel Jesus has only five loaves to feed 5000 with twelve wicker baskets left over. In John’s gospel God goes beyond the abundance of Old Testament gifts.
TO OUR CULTURE
In our society, abundance is usually a sign of inheritance, hard work, or lucky investments. Here, abundance is a sign of God’s free gift.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Today’s Gospel gives us a wonderful window into an understanding of the Eucharist. We have heard this story many times before, and it is one of those events in the life and ministry of Jesus, that we can easily imagine. However, if we just stay with our imagination and say to ourselves, “well that was a great miracle that Jesus did, because he fed so many people who were hungry”, and leave it at that, we would be missing the deeper meanings within the story for us back then and right now.
Underlining all the stories in the Gospels there lies a deep spiritual meaning and direction for our lives to be wholesome, holy and genuinely caring and loving of others.
Often we hear someone say that, ‘with God everything is possible’. Well it is true, and if we are in doubt or somewhat negative as to what God can do in us, we will find it a difficult and rough road to happiness, closeness to God, and other people.
In today’s Gospel we are faced with a seemingly impossible task. Many people were intent on following Jesus, so much so, that they did not bring enough provisions to satisfy their natural hunger. Why were the crowds following Jesus so intently? According to the Scriptures, they were attracted to Jesus because he offered them hope within their hopeless situations of sickness, spiritual poverty and hardness of heart. He cured the sick and welcomed the fringe dwellers, and the signs that he gave, impressed the people, but he called them to respond to something far deeper, namely a complete change of life style (a change of heart). What kind of signs we might ask? The signs that Jesus gave were indicators of a much deeper meaning and personal implication in people’s lives. Often Jesus said to people who were ill, or crippled that ‘it is your faith that has saved you’. Is Jesus speaking just about blind belief or something deeper? It would seem that Our Lord’s understanding of FAITH had a lot to do with VISION; that means seeing the saving hand of God in, and through the SIGNS; in short seeing the saving hand of God at work in Jesus. On that basis we could say that FAITH=INSIGHT…..the ability to see within something far deeper of profound meaning.
In the feeding of the five thousand people, Jesus firstly invites them to sit down, and be a guest at the Lord’s bountiful table. From the very little that was offered from the people; Jesus uses this as a means in being a source of plenty for all. The image of Jesus being with the people on the slopes of a mountain is also rich in spiritual significance. Often in the Old Testament, there are stories told of God inviting his people to a banquet of the very best of food and company, thus celebrating a covenant love with his people. This theme is present in this reading; Jesus the Messiah is sharing the unlimited bread of life with the faithful, who were no longer guests, but companions (bread –sharers, from the Latin, panis=bread, com=with). In giving thanks, and breaking the loaves, and asking them to be handed out to the people, it is truly Eucharistic in its overtones. There was more bread than they could eat, and the scraps filled twelve baskets. Hence with Jesus he issued in the new Israel, the new twelve tribes of Israel built on the shoulders of the Apostles.
Now let’s look a little deeper into the SIGNS within this powerful story which in fact is a Catechesis, i.e. a teaching with a profound message about the identity of Jesus, and the import of His Good News. Notice the story and its participants are also SIGNS. This Gospel passage for today is in fact within the Book of SIGNS in John’s Gospel, the second half of the Gospel is called the Book of GLORY.
The scene is set for the Messianic Banquet, that ultimate SIGN mentioned many times in the Old Testament, when the Lord God would invite all people to the Banquet….where was it to happen? On a mountain; Biblically speaking, that place of Revelation, Epiphany, unveiling etc. Now, this text is best appreciated as an unfolding Drama! Jesus in his identification with the people of Israel asks Philip as question….’where can we get bread for these people to eat?’ Now within hearing of this question, Andrew suggested that there is a small boy here with five loaves of Bread, and two Fish. The Boy is a SIGN, the BREAD and FISH are also signs….signs of what, you would ask? The young Boy would seemingly represent ISRAEL, the five loaves, THE TORAH…that is the first five Books on the Jewish Scriptures, and the two fish….the TWO COVENANTS….one with Abraham, and the other with Moses. God’s Word was often seen in the Old Testament as represented by Bread. Food for Thought, eh?
Today’s Gospel is an invitation for us to go to Jesus with our emptiness, and it is only then, that we can we be filled with his never-ending love. The nourishment that He freely gives us, he invites us to share just as freely with others, in the building up of God’s Kingdom. At the end of the Mass, the Priest says, ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’. Our response to the Gospel invitation is to be the embodiment of peace, to be the givers and recipients of God’s love and humbly serve (minister) to each other as Christ ministers to us. Plenty to think about!
God Bless you and your families……..and may we never forget each other while held in prayerful conversation with the Lord,
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer..
Leader: God abundantly provides for all people. We confidently raise our prayers to such a generous God.
That the Church willingly open her stores of abundance to those in need. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That rulers of nations be guided by the compassion of Christ, the heavenly King. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That the hungry always have their fill. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That we always take time to gather the leftovers, so that nothing of God’s abundance be wasted. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That Pope Francis who celebrated his Birthday this week, will be strengthened to continue being a Prophetic Messenger of the Lord God. We pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Leader: God of abundance, you lavish on us all good gifts: hear these our prayers that one day we might be with you in the fullness of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
- The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
- The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
- The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
- The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
- The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
- The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
- The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
- The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.
If you would like to read other Homilies, Essays on Spiritual topics, and even a very humourous Story about the place in Ireland where Fr.Kevins ancestors came from…..check out FUNNIES!