Friday, April 8, 2016

Liturgical Year C, Cycle II

First Reading: Acts 5:34-42
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
Gospel: John 6:1-15

The Sorrowful Mystery

First Reading:  Acts 5:34-42

The Apostles Are Persecuted

34 But one in the council rising up, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, respected by all the people, commanded the men to be put forth a little while.

35 And he said to them: Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do, as touching these men.

36 For before these days rose up Theodas, affirming himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all that believed him were scattered, and brought to nothing.

37 After this man, rose up Judas of Galilee, in the days of the enrolling, and drew away the people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as consented to him, were dispersed.

38 And now, therefore, I say to you, refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this council or this work be of men, it will come to nought;

39 But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God. And they consented to him.

40 And calling in the apostles, after they had scourged them, they charged them that they should not speak at all in the name of Jesus; and they dismissed them.

41 And they indeed went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.

42 And every day they ceased not in the temple, and from house to house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14

Triumphant Song of Confidence

The psalm of David before he was anointed. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?

4 One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.

13 I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.

Gospel: John 6:1-15

Feeding the Five Thousand

After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias.

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw the miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

3 Jesus therefore went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

4 Now the pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand.

5 When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes, and seen that a very great multitude cometh to him, he said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

6 And this he said to try him; for he himself knew what he would do.

7 Philip answered him: Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little.

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to him:

9 There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes; but what are these among so many?

10 Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand.

11 And Jesus took the loaves: and when he had given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down. In like manner also of the fishes, as much as they would.

12 And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost.

13 They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten.

14 Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world.

15 Jesus therefore, when he knew that they would come to take him by force, and make him king, fled again into the mountain himself alone.

The miraculous sign of Jesus

Can anything on this earth truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger we experience for God? A great multitude had gathered to hear Jesus, no doubt because they were hungry for the word of life. Jesus' disciples wanted to send them away at the end of the day because they did not have the resources to feed them. They even complained how much money it would take to feed such a large crowd - at least six month's wages! Jesus, the Bread of Life, took the little they had - five loaves and two fish - and giving thanks to his heavenly Father, distributed to all until they were satisfied of their hunger.

The people of Israel had been waiting for the prophet whom Moses had promised: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren - him shall you heed (Deuteronomy 18:15). The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God has indeed sent him as the anointed Prophet and King. Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle that is repeated in all four gospel accounts. What is the significance of this particular miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God's provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses' leadership (Exodus 16). This daily provision of food in the barren wilderness foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers.

Jesus makes a claim which only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The sign of the multiplication of the loaves when the Lord says the blessing, breaks, and distributes through his disciples prefigures the superabundance of the unique bread of his Eucharist or Lord's Supper. When we receive from the Lord's table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the "one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ" (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward.

When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the "bread of life"?

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves so that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God's provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who are in need?

"Lord Jesus, you satisfy the deepest longing of our heart and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me."

Daily Reflection
Of Creighton University's Online Ministries

John’s story of Jesus feeding a large crowd is similar to Mark’s story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. There are some details that differ but essentially they seem to set forth the same view of Jesus and his disciples. First, there is a large, hungry crowd. In John, Jesus asks his disciples where they can get food for the people. In Mark, the disciples ask him if they should dismiss the crowd to go get food. In Mark, Jesus tells his disciples to give them something to eat. The response of the disciples is the same in both stories: we do not have enough money to buy food for all of these people and, besides, where would we get the food if we had the money? Next, in Mark, Jesus asks them what they have. In John, the disciples tell them what they have. In both accounts, it is not much – five loaves and two fish. Next, Jesus has the people sit down. Then he takes the food they have, blesses it (gives thanks), and then gives it to the people to eat through the hands of his disciples. Everyone eats their fill and then the leftovers are picked up and they amount to more than they had in the beginning.

This story speaks powerfully to disciples of Jesus today who often find themselves in ministry situations exactly like this one. Service to others often leaves us feeling like Jesus’ disciples: there are so many people, so many needs, so many things to get done. How can we minister to these people? Perhaps you see a problem in your community that needs to be addressed but it is simply so much larger than anything you could personally handle. What does Jesus say to us? You give them something to eat, you take care of them, you handle it. And our response is, This is impossible. We do not have what it takes to minister to these people. So Jesus asks, What do you have? First, it is always good to realize that problems we tackle are bigger than us and that we cannot handle them on our own or even if we got a couple hundred other people to help us. We just do not have what it takes to solve the problem. On the other hand, Jesus wants to know what we DO have and it is good for us to answer that question, too. Frankly, it often looks like five loaves and two fish in the face of five thousand hungry people.

Yet, I give what little I have into the hands of Jesus and he blesses it, gives thanks for it, multiplies it and then gives it back to me. And miraculous things happen. People get ministered to, communities see change, the downtrodden are lifted up – all eat their fill and are satisfied. I used to be an on-call chaplain for a hospital. They called me when someone had died or was dying. Each time, as I drove to the hospital, I would pray that the Lord would give me what I needed to minister to whoever was on the other side of that door. Honestly, at 3:00 in the morning, I frequently had little or nothing to give. But Jesus always took what I had, blessed and multiplied it, and people were helped. On my way home I always marveled at how he could handle the biggest problems when I just gave him what little I had. I would go home with leftovers, too.

During this Easter season may we offer to Jesus what, if anything we have, trust him to do something with it, and be prepared to see miracles.    

by George Butterfield
Creighton University's Law School Library
click here for photo and information about the writer

Daily Meditation by(c) 2013 Don Schwager
Bible Story illustrations by publishing.com 

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