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Contents: Volume 2 - The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 29, 2018


 

The 17th

Sunday

Ordinary

Time

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

 

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1.

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Sun. 17 B

In both the first reading and the Gospel reading today, we hear/read how two great prophets shared the gift of food brought by one person with the multitude before him. Christians believe that these miracles of sharing prefigure the Eucharist. In our Eucharist celebration today, the One who was the greatest prophet of all, Jesus, feeds us his own Body and Blood to nourish us spiritually.

Although the main focus of the Eucharist is the sharing of Jesus's Body and Blood, this time together includes a very broad fare which we share. We share the gift of forgiveness. We share the Word of God. We share the fellowship of those present including individual and communal woes and victories, pleas and celebrations to name a few things.

We also share the call of our one Baptism mentioned in the second reading. If you are fortunate to belong to a truly diverse parish as I do, you not only share the traditions of Mother Church but also of varied cultures. The young and the old and everyone in between are woven together when we open our hearts to share more than a simple hand shake of peace. We truly become extended family, the Family of God, who connect to and nourish each other in many, many ways, all through the bond of Baptism and Eucharist.

We also share a type of responsibility for one another, for those whom we meet, and especially for those who are in great need. The "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" calls us to gather, share, and tend to one another's needs, individually, as a parish community, and as a Church. As many parishes gather for summer celebrations, even picnics or pot luck dinners, let us enjoy one another and find new ways to include others in this great blessing of belonging.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Seventeenth Sunday of Ordered Time July 29 2018

2nd Kings 4:42-44; Responsorial Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; Gospel Acclamation Luke 7:16; John 6:11-15

There is much more to the reading this Sunday than is at first apparent. For all of my life as a child and adolescent and for the vast majority of my adult life, I heard these readings about feeding large groups of people as a miracle whose sole purpose was to prove that Jesus was God. The focus was that he created a miracle that expanded a few into many, that all were fed and satisfied and that there was something left over. That itself proved Jesus multiplied the food available for a few into an abundance for very many. Perhaps that’s the message most Christians attending Liturgy this week-end in Christian churches using the same lectionary will hear.

There is more to this narrative.

In John’s gospel there is no institution of the Eucharist, of a sharing of his body and blood at his last meal with the disciples. Instead there is a vivid story of Jesus washing the dirty feet of his disciples and telling them that as he has done for them – not only in this humiliating task of washing dirty feet but also in all the event of his life including his death – so also they are to do for all others. Those scholars who study the Scriptures with intensity and search for meaning and relevance to life insist that this narrative in John of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is John’s way of teaching us about the sharing of his body and blood as nourishment. John tells us Jesus took the bread and gave thanks and distributed it to those who were reclining. Think how this is another way of stating what Jesus did at the last supper in the other gospels and in Paul’s letters. Think also about the phrase "gave thanks." The Greek word used to express "gave thanks" is Eucharisteo. It is the word we use to describe the second part of the Mass. We call it Eucharist for the action in that part of Mass, is giving thanks. We also use that word, Eucharist, to identify the bread and wine transformed into the Body and Blood of the Christ.

That leads us to other thoughts. In the mid 1970’s I ran across writings by several Reformed Christian theologians. In their writing about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes they stated their belief that the miracle was that the five thousand men – not counting the women and children – saw what Jesus was doing and were moved to share the food they had with them with the others around them. Thus the miracle was not that Jesus made more bread and fish but that the natural inclination of humanity to hold for themselves what they had lost its grip. Selfishness was overthrown by care and concern for others. For those theologians it was a matter love triumphing over self-centeredness. And in sharing there was more than enough for all. My reaction to this was that this was merely a way of denying Jesus the power to create miracles and do what he chose to do for the good of all. There is, however, merit to understanding that the presence of Jesus and an understanding of his message leads us to a sharing, caring, and loving relationship with others, even crowds of five thousand men, not counting women and children. Certainly there is room in our thinking for an understanding that the presence, teaching, and healing of Jesus leads us to such a relationship with others gathered together.

Also in this narrative in John’s gospel we note that Jesus came to the mountain and taught his disciples there. A mountain in the Scriptures is the place where God comes to humanity. A mountain is the place where the law is given. A mountain is the place where Moses and Elijah and Peter, James, and John met God. Moses met God in thunder and crashings; Elijah in a gentle whisper; Peter, James, and John in a voice from a luminous cloud. John chooses a mountain with the purpose of saying that God is present.

Jesus and the disciples had sailed to the mountain over the Sea of Galilee. The people sought out Jesus. They sought out Jesus because they were hungry for…. Well, yes. What were they hungry for? What are we hungry for? What do we need to be fulfilled? What do we need to be whole in our own skins? If we look again at the gospel we hear that Jesus instructs the disciples to have the people recline. When families and friends inn those days came to table they reclined. When persons come to table they come either as family or as invited guests. Thinking about this in the context of the Eucharist we realize that our assembly is gathered together to hear the Word of God and give thanks for each other, for God’s presence among us, and for the food we are about to receive.

That brings us to thinking about the liturgy of the Eucharist itself. We begin that celebration by reciting the Creed together as assembly. Has it ever struck anyone how strange it is that we begin a communal sharing of the Body and Blood of the Christ by stating, "I believe"? Why wouldn’t we begin by saying "We believe"? We intone "I believe" because we begin our entrance into this liturgy of the Eucharist as individuals. Many parishes encourage communicants to remain standing after receiving the Eucharist till all have returned to their places as a symbol and sign of our unity as the Body of Christ. What a great lesson this is that we can share with our children that teaches them about our church. We all become one Body in the Lord with the Eucharist.

We follow the individual profession of faith with what is called the Prayer of the Faithful or the Universal Prayer. In that, the needs and concerns of the whole church are collected. This is the first place in the Liturgy of the Eucharist when we act as a body of the faithful. It is as though we have entrance into this assembly because of our faith. Then follows the offertory. Unfortunately we’ve lost so much of the symbolism and sign of the offertory. The efforts and work of our past week are summed up in money. In most parishes, the offertory procession takes place – as a matter of expediency – while the money collection is being taken up. There is no connection between what is being transformed into the Body and Blood of the Christ and the results of our efforts and work and life in the preceding week. This is important. Just as Jesus took five barley loaves and a couple of fishes offered by a boy and transformed them into food for thousands with twelve baskets left over, so also it is what we bring with us to the Liturgy of the Eucharist that is transformed into food for all and there is plenty left over to share with those who are not in our assembly. The offertory procession is an important part of that liturgy. We should understand it and consciously offer to the altar what our week has been – its accomplishments, its failures, its joys, its sorrows, its difficult and broken relationships, and its joy and fulfillment in loving and being loved. When the Holy Spirit is called up by the presider to transform what we’ve brought to the altar, those gifts become the Body and Blood of Jesus which is shared. In that sharing we become one with each other and with the God of mercy and compassion who loves us beyond our expectations and ability to return that love. In effect we are joined together in the lives of each other by that sharing of our offerings; our relationship is cemented in the Body and the Blood of the Christ. We cannot forget it is what we bring to the altar that becomes that Body and that Blood. In our reception, we receive not only what we’ve brought but what each other person has brought whether in physical gift or in gifts from heart and mind.

Who among us is not hungry for peace, for joy, for loving, caring relationships with our families, with our neighbors, with our communities, within our civil community, with our nation, and with our world? With God as our food and our drink, are we not nourished to combat the divisiveness and anger and violence and untruth of a few who would lead us to self-centeredness, war, violence, and to worshipping the gods of wealth, power, and prestige?

May we, for the sake of ourselves, our children, our parish, our country, and our world listen attentively to the words proclaimed to us this week-end! Let us with hopeful hearts join in the prayer and prayer-song of our liturgies so as to lift up a tired and troubled world to the mountain where Jesus teaches, heals, and feeds us!

May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GIVING OUR ALL WITH TRUST: 17TH SUNDAY B

You’ve probably seen that ad on TV that says, ‘from little things big things grow’. Certainly a little can go a long way. That is to say, a little in the right hands can go a long way. That's what we notice in today's story about Jesus. Five barley bread rolls and two small pickled fish, in the hands of Jesus, go to feed five thousand men, plus thousands more women and children.

The principle still holds, that a little can go a long way. Let me tell you a story about this that comes from Florida in the United States. It's about a woman called Sue and a man called Tony.

One Saturday morning Sue was roaming through the crowd at a garage sale when she noticed a young black man looking at her intently. Catching her eye, he came up to her with an air of hesitancy and hope. 'Mrs. Lester?' he asked. 'Yes?' replied Sue, wondering how he knew her name.

'Mrs Lester,' he went on. 'I was hoping so much that I would see you when I came back to Florida.' Then he poured out his story. Years before, Tony had been a student where Sue was a teacher (and still taught). The school was 'the end of the road' on the socio-economic scale. As the locals put it, if the kids didn't make it there, the next stop was prison. Tony himself came from a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional home. The one bright spot in his life was the kindness and encouragement shown him by his teacher Mrs Lester.

He said to Sue: 'Day after day, when everybody else was telling me I was stupid and bad, you would sit me down in your office and say: "Tony, you can do anything you want with your life if you set your mind to it." You even invited me and some of the other kids into your home. By the way, do you still have that blackboard with the coloured numbers in your garage...?'

Tony had returned to Florida after recently graduating from the University of Michigan and was soon to start work as the business manager of a reputable firm.

The surprise reunion between teacher and former student continued in the middle of the garage sale, with Sue inviting Tony to come back to his old school to tell his story to the students there.

In our story about Jesus today, he is the number one hero, always concerned about the needs of others. He quickly notices that the people around him are desperate for something to eat, and right away he does something practical about it. But the second hero after Jesus himself is surely the small boy. After all, whose bread did Jesus multiply? Whose fish did he divide and share? None other than those of that small boy, who had only a little to offer, but who gave all he had. And in what the child gave, Jesus found the materials of a miracle.

Both stories tell the same truth. To make a difference to others, to bring meaning and hope and care into their lives, we need to bring them all the gifts we've got. We need to share who we are and what we have with that unselfish love, gentleness, patience, and peace, named in our Second Reading. And we need to do that in the name of Jesus, who takes every good deed done to our fellow human beings as done to him in person.

Yes, dear People of God, a little in the right hands, given in the right spirit, can go a very long way indeed. It can even contribute to the making of that better world, which was the dream of Jesus. The dream he shared when he came into Galilee preaching and teaching about remaking this rough-tough world into the kingdom of God!

So, when you and I are more concerned to get than to give, and whenever we are asked to give something we hesitate to give, let us think of the generosity of that small boy. And in our holy communion with Jesus today, let us ask him to help us 'to give our all', by sharing with others our daily bread, and anything and everything else that counts as personal resources. And always with faith and trust that Jesus our number one hero will receive and bless our efforts in ways we can’t even begin to imagine!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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