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Click Here for our "First
Impressions" reflection on the Assumption.
Jesus has performed a great wonder
for the people; he fed 5,000 by multiplying five loaves and two
fish. John makes much of this miracle, he sees it as a "sign" of
God's multiplication of goodness towards us. The abundant food Jesus
provides points to the abundance of grace Jesus offers us. (It seems
we can't overuse the word "abundant" when it comes to what God is
offering us!) Jesus invites us to come and eat. We who want the life
that God is offering us, a life that is even stronger than death,
are urged to reach out to Jesus, "the bread that came down from
The first reading from Proverbs
gives us added insights into today's gospel. Proverbs tells us that
Wisdom has "built her house... spread her table" and offers her food
and drink to the "simple." Through the images of food and drink,
Wisdom is offering what is life-giving – we are invited to "eat"
God's Wisdom. In John, Wisdom comes down from heaven embodied in
Jesus. John tells us in his Prologue that God has spoken a Word. The
very Word God used to create the world, has now become human in
order to bring us eternal life. To come to know Jesus is to know the
Wisdom of God. This Wisdom teaches us that, on our own, we can not
multiply life for ourselves. But today we are reminded that we are
the fortunate "simple" who have found wisdom. Thus, we are among
those who are wise enough to go into the house Wisdom has built, sit
at her table and eat.
As we continue to hear John 6 over
these weeks, we recognize many allusions to the stories of our
Hebrew ancestors: the feeding takes place at Passover; the
multiplication is in the wilderness, where Moses also fed the
Israelites with God's "bread from heaven"; Elisha fed a hundred
people with 20 barley loaves, the same type of bread Jesus
multiplied (barley was used to make the bread of the poor); Elisha's
servant told him the bread was insufficient, as Jesus' disciples
did. Remember too, that Isaiah had promised God would provide, "a
feast of rich food" for all peoples, "on this mountain." Jesus does
just that, he feeds the 5,000 on the mountain, a very rich food
indeed! While there are such symbolic links between Jesus' feeding
the crowds and the Israelites’ encounters with God, nevertheless,
Jesus is doing something entirely new. He is establishing a
communion between us and himself, as well as between all who sit at
his table. It is a communion that will never be broken.
Several weeks ago we heard God
lament that the appointed shepherds had led the Israelites astray.
God resolved, "I myself will shepherd my people." As we hear today's
readings from John 6, we experience the fulfillment of God's
promise, In Jesus we are led by the shepherd, "through the valley of
death" along "sure paths." The table is set for us at this
Eucharist. The shepherd has "spread a table" for us in the sight of
our foes and has provided a safe dwelling where we can eat together
(cf. Psalm 23).
We have heard Wisdom's voice in
the proclaimed word and now we, who are the "simple-hungry" find the
best food and drink. God has again noticed our hunger and has spared
nothing to nourish us for our continued journey through the
wilderness of modern life. As we come forward to eat and drink we
hear the promise whispered to us anew, "Someday, someday...all
together in eternal life... no more hunger, no more thirst, all will
be satisfied." Our preaching today, as always, is eucharistic.
Through it we hope to prepare people for the eucharistic meal in
which Jesus gives us his total self.
The preacher will want to point to
some of the other ways our culture thinks it can multiple bread and
feed us. For example. The latest technologies are such wonderful
conveniences and tools. But are we a better, more loving and
compassionate people because we have them? What kind of "bread" have
they fed us? Are our lives truly better than before. Will we become
still better when we get the latest upgrades we want? What we really
want and need is a deeper, more meaningful life – John's calls it
"eternal life." Jesus is Wisdom enfleshed. He has built a house for
us in his own person and invites us, "Enter here, eat and drink. I
am 'true food' and the cup I pour is 'true drink.' This food I give
will be true to you and keep you true to God and each other. 'Come
eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed.'" Wisdom's food
is lasting and offers what we cannot accomplish on our own – but
desperately need. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has
eternal life and I will raise you up on the last day."
To come to know Jesus, is to know
the Wisdom of God. Jesus may have filled the crowd's bellies, but he
is offering them and us so much more. Aren't there "signs" in our
daily lives through which God continues to give us life and satisfy
our hungers? This Eucharist is a sacramental sign that encourages us
to "see" the divine gift before us. And the Eucharist opens our eyes
to other "signs" God uses to teach us and feed us. So, today we
celebrate the daily bread of divine Wisdom placed before us – in
good families and friends; dedicated people with whom we work, study
and minister; in creation and its daily manifestations of God's love
and care for us.
The words Jesus spoke must have
sounded offensive to his hearers, for no Jew would drink blood.
Eating his flesh, drinking his blood still has an off-putting sound
to modern ears as well. During the Eucharistic Prayer today we will
hear, "Take...and eat, this is my body....Take and drink...this is
my blood." Most of us have heard these words from childhood; maybe
their strangeness has dissipated for us over the years. Jesus
straight-forward language serves as a faith reminder today. At this
Eucharist he is as close to us as the bread and wine; his life joins
with ours in the eating and drinking.
Jesus invites us to come close, to
acknowledge his presence and eat and drink with the confidence that,
in him, God has broken down the former barriers that separated us
from God and each other. God comes so very close to us in Jesus. Are
we hungry for this union? Do we believe in the One we receive at
this Eucharist today – believe enough to follow his ways? When we
come to eat and drink it is a kind of "altar call." We rise from our
current place in life and come forward to once again accept the One
who is offering us an ever-nourishing food for the present stage of
our journey across the wilderness. The eucharistic minister holds up
the bread and says, "the Body of Christ." We say, with hungry faith,
"Amen." Another minister holds up the cup and says,"the Blood of
Christ" and we who are hungry and thirsty simply say, "Amen." As the
first reading reminds us, "Wisdom has built her house...dressed her
meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table..., she calls
from the heights out over the city: 'Let whoever is simple turn in
here....come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!'"
Click here for a link to this
my work with local pastors and seminarians, I am
convinced that one of the practices that gets most
shortchanged in the sermon preparation process—and one
of the junctures that holds most promise for
strengthening contextuality in preaching–is the initial
encounter between the preacher and the biblical text
PREACHING AS LOCAL
THEOLOGY6 AND FOLK ART,
Leonora Tubbs Tisdale,
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997,page 104.
built her house, she has set up her seven columns
What exactly are Wisdom’s seven
columns? They seem to be listed in James 3:17: "But the wisdom that
is from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle,
compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or
insincerity." How many of us, as followers of Jesus, see these
attributes in Jesus’ life and seek to emulate our master teacher in
our own lives? For example, to be "full of mercy and good fruits"
implies helpfulness and service. How often do you step out of your
box to offer yourself in service to others?
Since the late 1980’s, I have been
a volunteer (wearing many different hats) with Habitat for Humanity.
In my encounter with struggling working families, I find common joys
and hopes, pain and distress. I also find that Catholic spirituality
can be discovered in service to others. Almost every single
Christian mystic, upon returning from their "mountaintop"
experience, turn to service with the poor or disadvantaged. What do
you think they experienced on that summit? Perhaps, the vast love
that they experienced, passed through them and found them wanting to
pass it on to others. Love of God and love of neighbor--the great
directive that fulfills all other laws.
This coming September 15th,
the Habitat for Humanity Catholic Coalition, which includes Holy
Name of Jesus Cathedral, will be starting to build its ninth house
over ten consecutive weekends in the Crosstowne subdivision in SE
Raleigh. Habitat builds in partnership with a working poor family
that has agreed to provide sweat equity as their down payment and
will pay a mortgage. Building each house is a time of great
expectation for everyone involved, a new way of life of home
ownership that had previously eluded the Habitat family and, also, a
new world view for the team members on the build. We need
parishioners willing to provide labor and to provide lunches. We
invite you to join in sharing your love, the love that flows from
God through you, in this wonderful endeavor. Contact Walt Milowic,
HNOJ coordinator, through the staff office at
While we build this house, you
will be building wisdom’s house within yourself--a life of genuine
wisdom founded upon the fear of the Lord and supported by the
columns of genuine purity, peace, gentleness, reasonableness,
service, humility, and sincerity.
---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Director of Social Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral,
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Proverbs reading:
Wisdom... has spread her table... she calls from the heights out
over the city.... "Come, eat my food, and drink of the wine I have
the foolishness that you may live; advanced in the way of
Wisdom takes flesh in Jesus, who
reveals God’s love and concern that we take in the right kind of
nourishment. God says to us, "I see your hungers that only I can
fully satisfy. I send you my Son, Receive the food and drink he
offers you – his very self." Like Wisdom in Proverbs, Jesus sets a
table and invites us to be nourished on himself, "true food... true
So we ask ourselves:
- How would you describe your
spiritual life... Satisfying? Malnourished? Starving?
- What do you do and where do
you go to feed your spirit?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH
has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an
inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form
it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Nathaniel Fair #0125241 (On
death row since 5/18/99)
- Keith Wiley #0654009
- William Anthony #0654093
----Central Prison 4285 Mail
Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
For more information on the
Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing
Also, check the interfaith page
for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:
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4. "First Impressions" is a
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worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like
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you and blessings on your preaching,
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St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
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