Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 11, 2017 — “Taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute.”– “I am the way the truth and the life.”

Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 334

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The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)

Reading 1 GN 3:9-24

The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with meB
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

To the woman he said:

“I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”

To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,

“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”
The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments,
with which he clothed them.
Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us,
knowing what is good and what is evil!
Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand
to take fruit from the tree of life also,
and thus eat of it and live forever.”
The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he had been taken.
When he expelled the man,
he settled him east of the garden of Eden;
and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,
to guard the way to the tree of life.

Responsorial Psalm PS 90:2, 3-4ABC, 5-6, 12-13

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Before the mountains were begotten
and the earth and the world were brought forth,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Alleluia MT 4:4B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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11 FEBRUARY, 2017, Saturday, 5th Week, Ordinary Time
FACING OUR INADEQUACIES BY TURNING TO JESUS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GEN 3:9-24; MARK 8:1-10   ]

“A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat.”  As a priest I can easily identify myself with Jesus.  Indeed, day in and day out, I receive one request after another for assistance.  Some are thirsting for knowledge; others for understanding, still others for healing and restoration of relationships. Others still, are under some kind of bondage, spiritual or emotional, especially unforgiveness. Many are lost, confused and are on the verge of giving up on their lives.  Then there are those who are coping with grief, failures and disappointments.  More often than not, I feel totally inadequate to meet the numerous demands that come from every quarter of life, mostly due to time constraint, or sometimes due to helplessness, as they are beyond my competency.

I have no doubt that all of us, regardless, whether we are priests or lay, have many demands placed on us.  Those of us in the service industry, social work, or are caregivers will surely understand the stress in serving those who come to us for help.  Even parents get upset with their children when they are unable to satisfy their unending requests.  Conversely, some of us are upset with our parents, especially when they make unreasonable demands on us. Deep in our hearts, we want to serve and fulfill their requests, but we too feel so powerless.  As a consequence, some of us end up suffering burnout in our ministry.  We lose zeal or hope, and give up completely on those people whom we are serving.

If you are feeling helpless and inadequate, then at least, there is hope.  This was how the disciples felt when Jesus told them, “If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’”  They too were exasperated when Jesus hinted that they should provide the food for the four thousand.   Perhaps Jesus wanted to stretch His disciples to the point of desperation so that they will turn to Him.

Why does Jesus want us to come to our limits?  This is a necessary step in order for one to come to Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  So long as we think we can solve the problems on our own, we will rely only on our own strength and ingenuity.  This was what happened to Adam and Eve.  They wanted to be like God without depending on God, and thus fell into the devil’s deception by partaking of the fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They wanted full autonomy without founding their autonomy on God who is the source of our freedom. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing their folly and acknowledging their failure, they put the blame on someone else.  Adam placed the blame on the woman saying, “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”   He refused to take any blame.  The woman in turn pushed the guilt to the serpent, saying, “‘The serpent tempted me and I ate.”

Pride prevented them for acknowledging their inadequacies.  What about us?  Are we ready to admit that we are sinners and that we are nothing before the majesty of God?  This is how the psalmist felt before the greatness of God.  He said, “Before the mountains were begotten and the earth and the world were brought forth, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn man back to dust, saying, ‘Return, O children of men.’ For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.  You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades.”  Truly, we are nothing before the majesty of God.

Perhaps, the punishments meted to Adam and Eve who sought to usurp the position of God was meant to put them in their place.   To the serpent, God told him that he will ultimately lose the battle. He said, “I will make you enemies of each other:  You and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’  Hence, the power of Satan is limited.  And to the woman who wanted to be the Lord, this will be the consequence, “I will multiply your pains in childbearing, you shall give birth to your children in pain. Your yearning shall be for your husband, yet he will lord it over you.”  And finally to the man, God said, “Accursed be the soil because of you. With suffering shall you get your food from it every day of your life.  It shall yield you brambles and thistles, and you shall eat wild plants. With sweat on your brow shall you eat your bread, until you return to the soil, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return.”  Yes, as the psalmist says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!” Sufferings and straits in life are meant to remind us that we are not gods.  We are not omnipotent, nor the creator of our lives.  Unless we know our limitations, God will not help us.

But once we acknowledge our dependence on the Lord and in humility turn to Him for help, like the crowd in the gospel, then Jesus as the Good Shepherd will reach out to us.  When asking His disciples to feed the crowd, Jesus knew that only He could do it.  Indeed, it is impossible to fulfill the requests of so many people in our lives.  We cannot accede to everyone’s needs.  For this reason, we must humbly admit with the disciples that on our own strength alone, we cannot feed the multitude of hungry people.  Only Jesus who is the Good Shepherd can do it.

So what must we do? Instead of deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are the saviour of the world, we must recognize that we are only messengers of Christ.  What we must do is to direct people to Jesus, not to ourselves.  Jesus would be able to multiply the seven loaves for the four thousand.  When we give Jesus, especially the Eucharist and the Word of God, He will personally satisfy them and feed them with His Word and the Bread of life.  Indeed, we must not underestimate the power of the Eucharist and the Word of God in changing peoples’ lives and empowering them to find a solution to their struggles and problems.  We might not be able to solve everyone’s problems but if we pray for them and bring their problems to the Lord, He will know how to reach out to them.  He will somehow give Himself to them through the Eucharist, the Word of God or through others.

Of course, it does not mean that we do nothing, but like the disciples, we must do all we can with the resources given to us.   Like the disciples, we need to present the loaves to Jesus and let Him make use of them in whatever ways He deems fit.  Yes, if we only surrender our resources, our strength, our mind and will to Jesus, He will use them efficaciously for the good of our brothers and sisters.  We are not the Good Shepherd, but shepherds after His own heart.  So let us do all we can on our part, but let us leave the rest to Jesus who knows better than we do as to how to satisfy the hungry and lonely hearts of every human person.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 
 
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Commentary on Mark 8:1-10 from Living Space

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Today we have the second of two multiplication stories found in Mark. The first with 5,000 people was in a predominantly Jewish area while this one with 4,000 people is in mainly Gentile territory. Jesus is reaching out to both groups. The people have nothing to eat and are hungry. The meaning is both physical and spiritual.

Once again we see Mark indicating the emotional response of Jesus. He is filled with compassion for the people in their need. “I feel compassion for all these people… If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way… Some have come a great distance.”

They will collapse “on the way”, on the road. Jesus is the Way, the Road. To walk the road of Jesus, we need a certain kind of nourishment. This is what Jesus came to give.

The disciples, interpreting Jesus literally, as they usually do, ask: “Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?” In the presence of Jesus, the question answers itself but the disciples have not yet clicked. In Mark’s gospel they are often shown to be without an understanding of just who their Master is. That is because they represent us.

The disciples are asked what they can supply. Seven loaves and a few fish is all they have.

There is a strong eucharistic element in this, as in the former story. The people are told to sit down. “He took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks (eucharistesas, ’ eucaristhsas in the Greek), he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute. And they distributed them among the crowd.”

Again we note that Jesus himself does not give out the food the people need. It comes from him but his distributed by his disciples. The same is today. It is our task to feed the hungry – both physically and spiritually. All were filled – 4,000 people altogether – and even so there were seven (a perfect number) baskets left over. A sign of God’s abundance shared with his people.

Again, as before, “He sent them away and, immediately, getting into the boat with his

disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha”, back to Jewish territory. Jesus was leaving no room for any misinterpretations of what he had done. The disciples too are quickly removed from the scene. There was to be no self-congratulation or glorying in their connections with Jesus the wonder worker. Through the miracle the teaching had been given and that was it.

Lord, teach me to serve you as you deserve;

to give and not to count the cost;

to fight and not to heed the wounds;

to labour and seek no reward

save that of knowing that I do your holy will.

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http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2057g/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection.The Gospel today speaks about the second multiplication of the loaves. The thread of union of several episodes in this part of the Gospel of Mark is the food, the bread. After the banquet of death (Mk 6, 17-29), comes the banquet of life (Mk 6, 30-44). During the crossing of the Lake the disciples are afraid, because they have understood nothing of the bread multiplied in the desert (Mk 6, 51-52). Then Jesus declares that all food is pure (Mk 7, 1-23). In the conversation of Jesus with the Canaanite woman, the pagans ate the crumbs which fell from the table of the children (Mk 7, 24-30).
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And here, in today’s Gospel, Mark speaks about the second multiplication of the loaves (Mk 8, 1-10)..Mark 8, 1-3: The situation of the people and the reaction of Jesus. The crowds, which gathered around Jesus in the desert, had no food to eat. Jesus calls the disciples and presents the problem to them: “I feel pity for this people, because for three days they have been following me and have not eaten. If I send them away to their homes without eating, they will faint on the way; and some come from very far!” In this concern of Jesus there are two important things: a) People forget the house and the food and follow Jesus to the desert! This is a sign that Jesus aroused great sympathy, up to the point that people followed him in the desert and remain with him three days! b) Jesus does not ask them to solve the problem. He only expresses his concern to the disciples.
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It seems to be a problem without a solution.
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Mark 8, 4: The reaction of the disciples: the first misunderstanding. The disciples then think of a solution, according to which someone had to bring bread for the people. It does not even occur to them that the solution could come from the people themselves. They say: “And how could we feed all these people in the desert?” In other words, they think of a traditional solution. Someone has to find the money, buy bread and distribute it to the people. They themselves perceive that, in that desert, to buy bread, this solution is not possible, but they see no other possibility to solve the problem. That is, if Jesus insists in not sending the people back to their homes, there will be no solution to feed them!.Mark 8, 5-7: The solution found by Jesus. First of all, he asks how much bread they have: “Seven!” Then he orders the people to sit down.
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Then, he takes those seven loaves of bread, gives thanks, broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute them; and they distributed them to the crowds. And he did the same thing with the fish. Like in the first multiplication (Mk 6, 41), the way in which Mark describes the attitude of Jesus, recalls the Eucharist. The message is this: the participation in the Eucharist should lead to the gift and to the sharing of the bread with those who have no bread.

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Mark 8, 8-10: The result: Everyone ate, they were satisfied and bread was left over! This was an unexpected solution, which began within the people, with the few loaves of bread that they had brought! In the first multiplication, twelve baskets of bread were left over. Here, seven. In the first one, they served five thousand persons. Here four thousand. In the first one there were five loaves of bread and two fish. Here, seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

• The time of the dominant ideology. The disciples thought of one way, Jesus thinks in another way. In the way of thinking of the disciples there is the dominant ideology, the common way of thinking of persons. Jesus thinks in a different way. It is not by the fact of going with Jesus and of living in a community that a person is already a saint and renewed. Among the disciples, the old mentality always emerges again, because of the “leaven of Herod and of the Pharisees” (Mk 8, 15), that is, the dominant ideology, had profound roots in the life of those people. The conversion requested by Jesus is a deep conversion. He wants to uproot the various types of “leaven”.

* the “leaven” of the community closed up in itself, without any openness. Jesus responds: “The one who is not against is in favour!” (Mk 9, 39-40). For Jesus, what is important is not if the person forms part or not of the community, but if he/she is generous, available or not to do the good which the community has to do.

* the “leaven” of the group which considers itself superior to others. Jesus responds: “You do not know what spirit animates you” (Lc 9, 55).

* the “leaven” of the mentality of class and of competition, which characterizes the society of the Roman Empire and which permeated the small community which was just beginning. Jesus Responds: “Let the first one be the last one” (Mk 9, 35). This is the point on which he insists the most and it is the strongest point of his witness: “I have not come to be served, but to serve” (Mc 10, 45; Mt 20, 28; Jo 13, 1-16).

* the “leaven” of the mentality of the culture of the time Jesus responds: “Allow the little ones to come to me!” which marginalized the little ones, the children. (Mk 10, 14). He indicates that the little ones are the professors of adults: “anyone who does not accept the Kingdom of God as a child, will not enter in” (Lk 18, 17).

As it happened in the time of Jesus, also today, the Neo-liberal mentality is reviving and arises in the life of the communities and of the families. The reading of the Gospel, made in community, can help us to change life, and the vision and to continue to convert ourselves and to be faithful to the project of Jesus.

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Personal questions

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We can always meet misunderstandings with friends and enemies. Which is the misunderstanding between Jesus and the disciples on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves? How does Jesus face this misunderstanding? In your house, with your neighbours or in the community, have there been misunderstandings? How have you reacted? Has your community had misunderstandings or conflicts with the civil or ecclesiastical authority? How did this happen?

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Which is the leaven which today prevents the realization of the Gospel and should be eliminated?

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Concluding prayer

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Lord, you have been our refuge from age to age.  Before the mountains were born, before the earth and the world came to birth, from eternity to eternity you are God. (Ps 90,1-2)

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http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-mark-81-10

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Look at the words: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given.
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This is what Jesus does. This is what Jesus did with the loaves and the fish — and this is what Jesus does again at The Last Supper.
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Jesus does this over and over again in the Mass — and with us in our lives.
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Whenever we are broken we can return to Him. We can be taken, blessed, broken and given back to Him.
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Archbishop Goh has said, “Without hope everything will end in nihilism.”
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Nihilism says that life is without objective meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth if we follow Jesus who said, “I am the way  the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
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Related:
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Our thanks and prayers go out to Fr. Henri Nouwen who has been my excellent teacher.
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Fr. Henri Nouwen
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In Henri Nouwen’s book “Life of the Beloved” he outlines four words that he believes are central to the spiritual lives of Christians,

“To identify the movements of the Spirit in our lives, I have found it helpful to use for words: taken, blessed, broken and given. These words summarize my life as a priest because each day, when I come together around the table with members of my community, I take bread, bless it, break it and give it. These words also summarize my life as a Christian, because, as a Christian, I am called to become bread for the world: break that is taken, blessed, broken and given. Most importantly, however, they summarize my life as a human being because in every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessings, the breaking and the giving are happening.” (Life of the Beloved, 41-42)

The radical difference between the way God works and the way the world works is that the world only uses 2 of the four. The world takes and breaks with no idea of how to bless and give. Praise God that we have a Father who knows us and loves us enough to give us exactly what we need and then turn right around and use us to be a blessing to others through the experiences we have walking with God…being taken by him, blessed by him, experiencing brokenness through him and with him and then being given for others.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed it, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26

Nouwen says, we are now that bread….

http://mattdabbs.com/2014/07/28/taken-blessed-broken-given-we-are-the-bread/

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 11, 2017 — “Taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute.”– “I am the way the truth and the life.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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