Friday, 24 July 2015

You open wide your hand, O lord, and grant our desires. 26.7.15

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

The basilica in Lourdes

Welcome to a little liturgy.  This week we talk of miracles.  As I write, I am thinking of my friends in Lourdes on the Ampleforth Pilgrimage.  As everyone knows, it is a place of many miracles; as everyone who has visited knows, the miracles are not always of the conventional kind.  It is a place where it seems natural to follow the advice of St Paul to "bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience."   

Summary of Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Kings 4:42-44
Elisha gives food to his servant to distribute to a hundred men.  His servant remarks that it is not enough but Elisha tells him that the Lord has said, "They will eat and have some left over".

Psalm 144
You open wide your hand, O Lord, you grant our desires.

Second Reading
Ephesians 4:1-6
St Paul tells us to be charitable, selfless, gentle and patient.  He also reminds us to be together always, since there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God who is Father of all".

John 6:1-15
The Gospel tells us the familiar story often known as "the feeding of the five thousand" or the "miracle of the loaves and fishes".  Jesus notes that the people who had gathered to listen to him might need feeding and asks the disciples to distribute food to them.  There are only "five barley loaves and two fish".  The disciples are incredulous but after Jesus has said the blessing, they gave out as much as was wanted and there were twelve basketfuls remaining.


Miracles are difficult to comprehend and perhaps even more difficult to distinguish from magic.  Certainly, it is easy in this Gospel story, to imagine Jesus' words of blessing acting as some kind of multiplying spell and, hey presto, there were many more loaves and fishes.  It may be more helpful to consider what the miracle signifies.  

Paragraph 547 of the Catechism says, "Jesus accompanies his words with many "mighty works and wonders and signs", which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah."

Some people believe that everyone present became aware of the needs of their neighbour and that they followed the example set by the young boy and Jesus and all shared.  This is exactly what St Paul asks of us in his letter to the Ephesians today; we should be "charitable" and "selfless".

Pope Francis talks about this kind of charity below: 

"When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them—some food, a place in our homes, our time—not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always ‘add more water to the beans’! Is it possible to add more water to the beans?…Always?…And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in materials things, but in the heart!"(Pope Francis, Address during Visit to the Community at Varginha, 7/25/13)


The events described in the Gopsel today can be linked to the Last Supper and the fact that in the Eucharist God provides food for his people.  

Below is the start of the blessing used in Jewish households before eating bread:  

"Blessed are you Lord King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth."

Find the similar words in the text of the Mass you are following.  
Continue the words of this blessing to write your own grace before a meal.  

The link below shows a modern Jewish family blessing and sharing bread.  How is this ritual similar to what the priest does at Mass?  What makes our Eucharist different from this?  

Jewish blessing for eating bread

I hope you all have a good week and enjoy the challenge of considering miracles.  

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