Posts Tagged ‘feeding the multitude’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 10, 2018 — Feeding the Multitude with Loaves and Fish

February 9, 2018

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin
Lectionary: 334

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

Feeding the Multitude by Bernardo Strozzi, early 17th century.

Reading 1 1 KGS12:26-32; 13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself:
“The kingdom will return to David’s house.
If now this people go up to offer sacrifices
in the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem,
the hearts of this people will return to their master,
Rehoboam, king of Judah,
and they will kill me.”
After taking counsel, the king made two calves of gold
and said to the people:
“You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough.
Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.”
And he put one in Bethel, the other in Dan.
This led to sin, because the people frequented those calves
in Bethel and in Dan.
He also built temples on the high places
and made priests from among the people who were not Levites.
Jeroboam established a feast in the eighth month
on the fifteenth day of the month
to duplicate in Bethel the pilgrimage feast of Judah,
with sacrifices to the calves he had made;
and he stationed in Bethel priests of the high places he had built.Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this,
but again made priests for the high places
from among the common people.
Whoever desired it was consecrated
and became a priest of the high places.
This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam
for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 106:6-7AB, 19-20, 21-22

R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
We have sinned, we and our fathers;
we have committed crimes; we have done wrong.
Our fathers in Egypt
considered not your wonders.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

AlleluiaMT 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.
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No automatic alt text available.

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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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

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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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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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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10 FEBRUARY, 2018, Saturday, 5th Week, Ordinary Time
HEALING THROUGH ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS IN THE EUCHARIST

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 KGS 12:26-3213:33-34PS 106:6-719-22MK 8:1-10  ]

Today’s readings should lead us to reflect on the close link between sickness and sin, whether remotely or proximately.  Sin is alienation from God and from each other.  As a result of our loss of focus, man has usurped the place of God and made himself a god.  That means he can no longer depend on anyone but himself.  Inevitably, he loses his balance in life and all integrity within himself and his relationship with the world.  This has brought about his bodily illness because there is a lack of integrity between his mind, body and spirit. The loss of the preternatural gifts, resulting in death, pain, ignorance and concupiscence, is the consequence of Adam’s disobedience.  Seduced and misled by the serpent who said to his wife Eve, “You will not certainly die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5), his pride caused him to deceive himself into thinking that he can do without God.

The sin of the Israelites is the same sin as that of Adam’s.  It is a repetition of the sin of pride and disobedience.  Already in the Book of Exodus, we read how the Israelites made for themselves a golden calf whilst Moses was meeting the Lord at the Mountain.  Again, we see this same attempt of Jeroboam.  He “made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough.  Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”  It was out of ambition, fear and selfishness that he turned away from the true God of Israel and erected his own sanctuaries, altars for sacrifices, appointed his own priests that were not of the Levi tribe.  He did all these to prevent his people from going to Jerusalem for fear that the people might return to the Kingdom of David.  So to restrain contacts between his people and those of Judah, he duplicated the shrines purely for his self-interest.  As a result, he led his people to sin, as their religion and worship became contaminated and diluted by pagan influences.  When God is abandoned, sin increases.  There is no greater sin than the sin of idolatry, for the sin of Adam is in fact the sin of idolatry.  Anyone who worships himself is committing the sin of idolatry, which will lead to every other sin.

It was for this reason that Christ come.  He came to reconcile us with God so that we can find focus in life again.  He came to show us who His Father really is.  He came to reveal to us the mercy and compassion of God.   Indeed, the healing ministry was central to the life of Jesus.  His healing miracles were signs that He has come to overthrow the reign of Satan and destroy sin.  The miracles of Jesus were, on one hand, the expression of God’s compassion for His suffering and afflicted people.  On the other hand, it was also a demonstration of the power of the Spirit at work in Jesus manifesting the divine presence in Him.  By healing the sick, which is the consequence of original sin and also quite often the fruits of our own personal sins, it shows that God has come to restore us.  By living a foolish, selfish, self-centered, ill-disciplined and wanton life, we cannot but bring misery upon ourselves and even our loved ones.  St Paul, warning the Galatians about living a licentious life, wrote, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  (Gal 6:7-8)

Jesus came to teach us about God’s love and the way to live a life of love and service.  This is brought out in today’s gospel story.  By the act of multiplying the loaves for the Seven Thousand, Jesus wanted the crowd to know that only God can satisfy their spiritual and physical hunger completely.  And when God gives, He gives abundantly, beyond human calculation.  This was what the disciples learnt in this miracle.  When they were wondering how to feed so many people, Jesus worked this miracle to let them know that He is the Bread of Life.  Just as God gave manna to their fathers in the desert, so now Jesus, the Bread of life, is doing the same by feeding them in a deserted place.

Accordingly, the best place to be healed is in the Eucharist.  Many Catholics who are seeking spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological healing fail to realize that they have the greatest means of healing before them, namely, the Eucharist.  Being the real presence of our Risen Lord, the Eucharist has the power to transmit the healing grace of God.  At every mass, just before the reception of Holy Communion, we repeat the words of the Centurion, saying, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”  Indeed, since Jesus is personally present in the Eucharist, He too can heal us the way He healed the sick when He was in His earthly life at Palestine.

Today, as in the days of old, there are so many people who need healing from all kinds of illnesses. Like the apostles, we too ask: how can we find the strength and resources to help them?   The answer of course is to bring Jesus to them.  And what better way to do this than to give them the Eucharist, the presence of Jesus par excellence.  As the gospel tells us, after Jesus multiplied the loaves for them, they ate their fill and still they collected seven basket loads of leftover.  So with Jesus, all can be satisfied.

But how is this so?  Faith in the healing power of the Eucharist must not be reduced to mere superstition.  We must keep the unity between the Word and the Sacrament.  The gospel tells us that Jesus taught them for three days before He broke bread for them.  In other words, before we can celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist, we must be converted in the mind through careful listening of the Word of God.  Unless the mind is renewed and converted, the heart cannot be changed.  Unless a person is brought to repentance and contrition, no effective healing can take place, and even if it does, the person will once again be wounded emotionally, psychologically and physically by his sins.  But if the mind is renewed and the heart is converted, then the person will avoid falling into sin again and save himself from the effects of sin.  Furthermore, unless we have heard the Word, then we can in faith recognize Jesus in the Eucharist.  This means that we must keep that integral and balanced unity between the celebration of the Word and the Sacrament.  Sometimes, we tend to overemphasize the Word at the expense of the Sacrament; or conversely, emphasize the sacrament and neglect to attentively listen to the Word of God proclaimed at mass.

In the final analysis, we must ask whether we have encountered Jesus, the Word made Flesh, incarnated in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  If we fail to have a personal faith encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, then the Eucharist cannot feed us or heal us.  Once we encounter Jesus, we will be healed physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.   Encounter with the person of Jesus will heal all our wounds.

However, the healing grace of the Eucharist extends beyond the reception of the sacrament.  We become what we eat.  So we become more like Jesus when we receive Him, putting on His mind and heart.  In turn we too become mediators of Christ’s love and compassion to others.  Like Jesus, we will also become healers ourselves, reaching out to others who are as wounded as we were.  Like Jesus, we too must in turn be motivated by pastoral charity, shown concretely in our actions, our compassion for them in their sufferings and needs.

For this to happen, we need priests chosen by the Lord.  If the Eucharist is the summit of the Church’s liturgy and life, then without priests, we will not have the Eucharist.  That is why we must continue to pray for young men to have the courage and generosity to give themselves to the priesthood.  Without the Eucharist, the people of God would be like those Seven Thousand, hungry for food.  Priests are chosen by God, not by men, as what Jeroboam did.  He tried to dissuade his people from going to the Temple of Jerusalem by erecting his own temples, appointing priests who were not from the tribe of Levi and established his own feasts.  The truth is that just because he was doing and imitating what was being done at the Temple of Jerusalem, it does not mean that he could bring about the presence of God for the people.  Similarly, without ordained ministers, the people of God will be impoverished and be deprived of the healing grace that comes from the Eucharist.  Let us therefore seek a deeper appreciation of the Eucharist, and at the same time pray for an increase of holy priestly vocations.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 
 
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Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, February 14, 2015 — Jesus is filled with compassion for the people in their need

February 13, 2015

Saints Cyril and Methodius

Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop
Lectionary: 334

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 me
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 ofDalmanutha.

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The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes by Vasili Nesterenko
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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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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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SENTIRE CUM ECCLESIA

SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 CORINTHIANS 3:9-17; LUKE 19:1-10

Today is the anniversary of the Dedication of the Good Shepherd Cathedral, which is the mother church of the diocese, just as St John Lateran Basilica is the mother church of all the churches in the world.  For this reason, all the parishes in the Archdiocese in Singapore celebrate and rejoice with the Archbishop and the Church in Singapore in celebrating the Dedication of the mother church of the diocese.  The Cathedral represents the seat of unity in the person of the Bishop who is the head of the Church appointed by Christ, not chosen by men.  As we celebrate this feast, we are reminded to show our solidarity with the Bishop, the priests and all Catholics in Singapore so that together we can be truly a sign of communion in love and mission.

The Church, however, is not merely a building but a person, or rather a person of persons.  We are called to love the local Church as the mother of us all.  It is through the Church that we were given New Life through baptism. The Church as our mother, nurtures, strengthens and feeds us with the Word of God and most of all, the Eucharist, the Bread of life and the Body and blood of Christ.  Through the ordained ministers in the Church, we grow in union with the Lord through the celebration of the sacraments and also through the proclamation of the Word of God.  What Ezekiel says of the Temple of Jerusalem giving life to all creatures is applicable to the Church as well.  As mother she communicates life and love. “Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary.” (Ez 47:8-9)

As such, we are called to love the Church by feeling with her, thinking with her and praying with her.  This is what it means by Sentire cum Ecclesia. Loving the Church is more than just being sentimental, but it is an invitation to be identified with her in mind and heart.  We must therefore try to understand the teachings of the Church and the direction of the diocese so that we can move in tandem with everyone.  That is why it is so important that all of us must take our direction from the Bishop instead of setting our own directions. Otherwise, regardless how noble and good our intentions are, we can cause confusion and division in the Church, which would destroy the Church as the sign of communion and unity.  As the Bishop is the Father of the diocese, we must give him reverence and respect, making ourselves available for his service in serving the Church of Christ.  We must also seek to love our priests.  They are human and imperfect, but all the same, they have responded to God’s call to serve His people.  To love the Church is to also love all of us fellow Christians in the Body of Christ.  As St Paul tells us, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. “Didn’t you realize that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you?” (1 Cor 3:16)

Sentire Cum Ecclesia also demands that we all play our part in the building of the Church.  St Paul reminds us that we are God’s building.  He exhorts us to work together to build the Temple of God.  “Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 3:10)  Furthermore, St Paul says, “On this foundation, different people may build in gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw but each person’s handiwork will be shown for what it is. The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work.” (1 Cor 3:11-12)  Each of us must therefore consider what kind of services we are offering to build the Temple of God.  If we love the Church, we would want to give the best to make the Church a place of exquisite beauty, both in the building and its people, so that God is glorified in the same way we make our house a beautiful home to live in.  In fact, we beautify our houses much more than we adorn the House of God.  It is almost akin to David who lived in the palace while the Lord lived in the tent.  Gone are those days when men and women would give their best to build a church that is worthy to give glory to God.  Even some non-Christian places of worship are more dignified and grand compared to our churches.

But it is not easy to love the Church because on one hand the head, our Lord Jesus Christ, is holy but the members are still imperfect.  We are sinners striving to become saints.  Even our Church leaders are imperfect and, because of their weaknesses, often cause grief to those whom they lead, just as parents too fail in their responsibility towards their children, or at least are lacking in love and in showing good examples.  The most painful thing is to be wounded by our Church leaders because of their lack of compassion and arrogance.  Of course, this too is applicable to those of us who are parents or leaders.  Those under our care who love us most are also hurt by us when we reject them.  Because priests are configured in Christ by the Sacrament of Holy Orders, they are seen as the representatives of God.  Their sins and scandals hurt the people of God more than any other persons.  Fellow Church members also hurt us by their sins.  Even within the Church we see the ugly side of Catholics who are competitive, insecure, power crazy, manipulative and hungry for honour, recognition and appreciation.

As we celebrate the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, we are reminded of the importance of compassion that would be required for us to love, pray and think with the Church. In the gospel, Jesus our Good Shepherd never gave up on the weak and the most incorrigible and despised sinners like the tax-collectors.  He would go for the lost sheep who are marginalized and rejected by the people, such as Zacchaeus.  At the heart of this call to love the Church is the virtue of compassion.  We need to cultivate the heart of Christ, a heart of compassion, for it is when we share a common passion for Christ, for the gospel, and are identified with each other in our struggles and weaknesses that we can accept and forgive each other for our failings.  Without compassion, we become judgmental, self-righteous, having a holier than thou attitude.  Only with a compassionate heart like that of Jesus the Good Shepherd, can we show more graciousness, respect, love and consideration of each other’s sensitivities. Only when there is compassion, will we look for the weak, the marginalized and those without a voice in the Church.

Finally, we must remember that the Church is Catholic, which means universal.  Everyone must have a place in the Church.  Every person’s culture and preferences must be respected.  Unity is not uniformity but harmony in diversity.  Whenever individuals or groups try to impose their preferences or theological stance on others, it causes disunity and division.  The Catholic Church is big enough to accommodate people of different cultures, rites and theological positions, so long as we are one in leadership, doctrine and in worship.  Today the Church needs leaders and members to be more embracing of people who worship differently or adopt more conservative practices in liturgy, devotions and moral lifestyles than them.  The Church must be hospitable and give everyone a place where they can feel at home, loved, accepted and appreciated for their unique contribution to the catholicity of the Church of Christ.

Let us therefore take heed as St Peter tells us to come to the Lord who is the living stone, “so that you too, the holy priesthood that offers the spiritual sacrifices which Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God, may be living stones making a spiritual house.”  (1 Pt 2:5)   Only by coming to Christ, who is the cornerstone of the Church, can our local Church make progress in strengthening our Churches, our people’s faith and love for Christ which, in the final analysis, is measured by the Church’s commitment to the poor and the work of evangelization.  St Peter wrote, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pt 2;9)  When fervor in the proclamation of the Good News to the poor is lacking, whether in works of charity or in direct proclamation of the Word of God, we know that the Church has not come to Christ, the Living Stone.

– See more at: http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.PExc2Ftu.dpuf

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Sermon based upon based on Mark 8:1-9, with an assist from Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:19-23, Genesis 2:7-17, and Hebrews 6:4-6.

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By Robin D. Fish, Jr.

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In his award-winning children’s book Millions, Frank Cottrell Boyce depicts an adorable little boy named Damian, who has visions in which saints appear to him. It’s a beautiful story. But when St. Peter appears to Damian, he tells him a version of today’s Gospel that is supposed to be wise, but really is foolish. According to this version, Jesus didn’t really make food appear out of nowhere when he fed the crowd. Rather, Jesus set an example of sharing that inspired others to do the same. Cottrell Boyce paints a word-picture of hundreds of people remembering the apple in their pocket, or the sandwich under their hat, or the piece of chicken tied up in their handkerchief. Instead of waiting for a chance to eat by themselves, they sheepishly took their own food out and shared with their neighbors. And that, says Cottrell Boyce, was the real miracle.

But Mark tells us that the multitude had nothing to eat. They had all run after Jesus unprepared, and now they were too far out in the country to get home without fainting of hunger. Seven loaves and a few fish were all they had. The disciples knew this would not be enough to feed everybody. But Jesus went ahead anyway. And after everyone was full, there were as many large basketsful of leftovers as there had been loaves to start with. This makes a mockery of Cottrell Boyce’s explanation. Even supposing some people in the crowd had a private stash of food, after they shared it with everybody, how do they have anything left over? Even suppposing there was a loaf of bread tucked up the back of every other person’s shirt, how do they end up with seven large baskets full of leftovers? If they had that much food to start with, why would Jesus be concerned? Instead of a miracle, or even a touching example, the feeding of the crowd would be a joke.

The miracle cannot be explained by science—not even social science. All attempts to make it jive with reason or the laws of nature, end in confusion. The story of Jesus feeding the crowd must either be believed or doubted. It speaks for itself. And what it speaks to those who believe is more than the fact that Jesus is powerful, or even that He is God. The message of this miracle is that JESUS IS ENOUGH.

There are a lot of ways you could take that statement. And some of them are clearly false. For example, you could take “Jesus is enough” to mean that if you believe in Jesus, nothing else really matters, and so you don’t need food, drink, shelter, work, or even air. But that would be absurd. God gives you those things so that you can live; without them you would die, whether you have Jesus in your heart or not. Or you could take “Jesus is enough” to mean that, once you’ve let Jesus in your heart, it doesn’t matter what you believe, teach, confess, or do. So none of our doctrines matter, especially when they involve differences with other Christians; none of God’s commandments matter, the difference between right and wrong doesn’t matter, and sin doesn’t matter, because we’re already saved. But none of these thoughts has anything to do with Jesus’ miracle of feeding the crowd, or what it means when it shows us that “Jesus is enough.”

Consider this week’s Bible verse from the “Congregation at Prayer” [a supplement in the Sunday bulletin] from Ephesians 2: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Now let’s look at Paul’s words more closely. You have been saved, he says. What have you been saved from? You have been saved from sin, from God’s judgment against sin, from everlasting death and punishment in hell. You have been saved by what? Paul says, “By grace.” That means totally for free, without paying anything or doing anything to obtain it. Another way to explain “by grace” is to say, “Because God is pleased with you.” How did you go from being a sinner, condemned to death and hell, to having God be pleased with you? Paul says, “Through faith.” What faith is that? Is it a quality in you, like an ability to endure troubles? Clearly not, or Paul wouldn’t have added, “not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Is it a virtue that you have, like being faithful to God? Clearly not, or you would not need to be saved for free. The faith through which God has saved you is the result of you being unmade and remade by God. So Paul says you are God’s workhmanship, created in Christ Jesus. God has drowned you and raised you from the dead, He has killed you and caused you to be born again by water and the Spirit, in baptism.

Faith is part of the new creation God has made you in Christ. And it is specifically through that faith that you receive God’s saving grace. The faith that comes from God in the washing of water and the word. Not a faith that bargains with God, or that is delivered to God as payment, but a faith that receives all good things from God as a gift, through Jesus. This faith relies on Jesus because He is enough. His incarnation in the womb of a Virgin makes make this one man’s obedience enough to cover the disobedience of all. It makes one man’s sacrificial suffering and death enough to end the curse of the Law against us. It makes one man’s resurrection from the dead enough to destroy the hold of death and hell upon us. It makes one man’s ascension to the throne of God enough to ensure that wherever God is present, Jesus can be there with His perfect manhood.

He can fill each of us, and live in each of us, and give His body to each of us, and He remains whole. However much He is needed, however far apart the faithful may spread, however deep and dark and sordid and sick and earthly and fleshly and weak and unworthy our condition may be, Jesus is there with us. His forgiveness is enough for whatever our sins. His body and blood are enough, no matter how desperate our need. His Word is enough. His strength is enough. His faithfulness, His compassion, His power to change hearts and to comfort the afflicted can never be exhausted.

All of this seems to violate the principles of mathematics, science, the laws of nature and reason. If you take away from anything, it cannot remain the same. If you divide something up, it cannot remain whole. If you consume something, you can’t end up with more than you started with. It’s just like dividing seven loaves and a few fishes between four thousand eaters. Reason and nature militate against the possibility that all those people could have been filled on that small amount of food, even supposing that some of them brought a few morsels to share with each other. Certainly there could not be more left over than there was to start with. But in this, Jesus shows that He is above nature and reason. He made them, He can unmake and remake them, and He exists outside of them. And so whatever He promises you, even if the thought of it being true is inconceivable by any stretch of the imagination, nevertheless that promise is true.

It is true that your sins are forgiven. And that means more to you than perhaps you know. For as Paul points out in today’s Epistle from Romans 6, the wages of sin is death, just as God warned Adam and Eve that the penalty for breaking His command was, “you shall surely die.” Now Paul does not say, “The wages of sin was death,” but “is death.” Sin is still sin, and it is still deadly, even for you. Your sinful desires still lead to sinful acts, and both can still destroy you; in fact, both will damn you, without the gift of God in Christ Jesus. This danger does not disappear when you are baptized as a Christian, or when you profess faith in Christ, or when you ask Him to be your Savior, or ever—until your present life comes to an end.

In fact, the danger is worse for us as Christians, because we have so much more to lose. For we were once citizens of the kingdom of Satan, and like all our fellow citizens, we were enslaved to him, hand and foot. All of our members, every part of our body, and even our soul belonged to sin, and served sin as slaves. But now Christ has freed us by His death and resurrection. He has given us God’s grace and a rebirth in faith. He has delivered us from bondage to sin, and made us slaves of God whose fruit is holiness, and whose end is eternal life. To have tasted the heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit, the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then to fall away again, would be a terrible loss.

The wages of sin is still death. So we still need Christ to save us, and to feed us. We are still like that crowd who could not make it home unless Jesus fed them. We have nothing in ourselves that can sustain us for the journey. It must come from Him. But what comes from Jesus is enough. Though our daily sins still carry the wages of death; though the world we live in plagues us with temptations to give up our faith; though Satan is trying harder than ever to destroy us, we have Jesus through Word and Sacrament, and Jesus is enough.

He might not be enough if He was far away, shackled to a chair in some hermetically sealed vault in the distant heavens. He might not be enough if we could only have him in us through our feelings, our dreamings, our imaginings, or our memories. He might not be enough if He was only present as a spiritual influence, or as an example for us to follow, or as a giver of wisdom and advice and rules for living.

But Jesus is more than all of these things put together. He is God, and He is Man, a person that no science or philosophy can comprehend. He is fully present here and now, personally and bodily, in His Word, in His Sacrament, in me and in you, though how this can be passes all understanding. But He is also the one who has ascended high above the heavens, that He might rule over all things. He is not limited by physics or calculus, by what we can think or what we can imagine. He is truly acting, loving, living, and giving to you all that you need, and overflowingly, abundantly more. He is now speaking to you, and if this were a Communion Sunday He would soon be feeding Himself to you.

How you can know this and not hunger for Him is beyond my understanding. If you were half as sinful as I am, you would pine for the body and blood of Jesus every day, let alone every week. You would feel that you needed His forgiveness again an hour after receiving it, if indeed that long. But beyond our understanding, yours or mine, is the fact that though we need Him every day, every hour, every minute to save us from the wages of our sin, Jesus is always with us, and what He gives us is enough and more than enough. And it remains enough, even after we have slipped and stumbled again, because He has borne our sin once for all; because He reaches out with His forgiving Word and Spirit and Body and Blood from an eternal throne that is both intimately near us and infinitely separate from our concept of time and place.

There are any number of realities we do not know, because God has not revealed them to us. We do not need to know them, perhaps we can never understand them, but this He makes known to us through the miracle of feeding the crowd: Jesus is enough. And that miracle is only one of many ways He has made this known. Without Him we are lost. But in Him we are saved. And though He has now created us anew for the purpose of doing good works, we know that we are not at all saved because of good works, but only because of Jesus. We know this because “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And to have that life, it is enough to have Jesus.

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