Lector's Notes

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading – Tips

Sound magnanimous, like a hearty host, proud of his cooking, receiving guests much loved and long awaited. The words themselves demand that.Pause before the second last sentence (“Come to me heedfully …”) and assume a more solemn tone, because you’re switching the emphasis from material abundance to spiritual richness.

Second Reading – Tips

Chapter 8 of the letter seems to address the implied question, “Well, if God loves us so much as to save us by unearned grace, why is everything still so difficult? Why are we suffering?” Today’s passage is a rousing rhetorical summation of Paul’s response, like a lawyer’s dramatic closing argument in a hard-fought trial.

Now it’s unlikely that your congregation will hear these verses with this sense of context. Our Sunday-by-Sunday selections have been too short and discontinuous to allow this.  But at least you know the context. With that knowledge and your own sense of the dramatic, you can proclaim the passage with the vigor that it deserves.

There are two long lists in the passage which you should proclaim carefully, not tediously. In the second, mark the end of the list with a more emphatic tone: “. . . nor height, nor depth, NOR ANY OTHER CREATURE [pause …] will be able to separate us . . .”

Intro to Readings

by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

For Judeans about to be released from exile in Babylon, and about to return to a devastated homeland, a prophet speaks words of encouragement.

Second Reading

Earlier in this letter, Paul has shown that God saves us by unearned grace, out of pure love, without measuring our merits. Now he answers the implied question, “Why are we still suffering?”

Gospel

Disturbed by the death of John the Baptist, Jesus withdraws. Followers pursue him anyway. Jesus again exceeds the expectations of his close disciples.

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Study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism

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Is 55:1-3

A Catholic soup kitchen in Reno Nevada.
Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

An invitation to feast on God

FIRST READING—Today’s reading from Isaiah is an invitation to feast on God. There is no cost involved, no bargaining, and no exchange of money. God gives freely of his grace: water, a necessity of life. Wine and milk are signs of abundance and symbolize God’s generosity. All who share at God’s banquet table will be duly satisfied.

After 70 years of exile, some of the Israelite captives begin to grow accustomed to the Babylonian way of life. Some captives are supposedly spending their money for “what is not bread,” and wages for “what fails to satisfy.” Some are seeking life from sources other than the one God. Such searching will end in emptiness and futility. The promise of a fulfilled life and a land to live in had been God’s promise to David hundreds of years earlier. This promise still remains for all captives who wish to open themselves to it again. All other promises end up leaving them still hungry and thirsty.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

God calls us to the banquet of life

FIRST READING—Isaiah asks a question today that is filled with poignancy. Why spend your money on food that is not nourishing? Are you spending money one things that don’t satisfy your deep cravings?

God calls us to the banquet of life and to accept this invitation you don’t need a lot of things.

The thirteen verses of Isaiah 55 are a poem about a God-life. Isaiah is suggesting that our dis-ease come from no knowing what we really want from life. Verse three begins, “Come to me heedfully.” The word heedful means; careful, attentive, watchful and mindful. God calls us to live our lives fully awake.

God, who is totally heedful of us, knows that we can live a half-life, worried about ourselves, our families, the future, until there is no more time to actually live, no time to enjoy all the blessings that we actually have.

“Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.” We know that a bowl of soup and a piece of fresh bread shared with friends is better, richer fare than a four course meal eaten when our hearts are disturbed or if we have no one to share it with.

Food is a metaphor for life. How we live depends on our nourishment. Today we are concerned about genetic modification of food, toxins in the food chain, polluted water and so on. These are all important issues.

Perhaps we are less concerned about the nourishment of the spirit. Where do we find our soul food? Through Isaiah, God says to us, “Let me feed you. It will be rich food, only the best. We need reassurance and this God supplies. “I fed you in the wilderness.”

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

God invites us to “come, buy and eat”

FIRST READING—After a generation of Exile in Babylon, Israel is invited to feast again in the Land of Promise. The prophet alludes to the food given in the desert during Israel’s first journey to that land and, again, the promise of abundant food given just before entering into it. Water, wine, milk, bread are the signs of God’s favor and care for the people. All are given without having to earn them. God’s gracious love pours out food and drink so the people can live with joy. No wonder food has become a sign of love in Jewish households (and Christian too)!

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

The meaning of biblical wisdom

FIRST READING—All my life I’d heard about the “wisdom of Solomon.” But only when I seriously began to study Scripture did I understand the meaning of biblical wisdom. It has nothing to do with winning at Jeopardy or becoming a trivia expert. On the contrary, it’s the ability to see the things in our lives that God expects us to see. The author of I Kings supplies us with a classic definition. When Solomon, at the beginning of his reign, is asked what he wants from Yahweh, he simply responds, “An understanding heart.”

At the time this passage was written most people believed they thought with their heart, not their mind. The heart didn’t get involved with feelings. (Those were relegated to a person’s kidneys!) So Solomon is basically asking Yahweh for the ability to think the right way: to judge things and people as Yahweh judges them. Quite a task.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Wisdom that comes from God

FIRST READING—God extends, through His 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah, the invitation to a future Messianic banquet.  Isaiah’s oracle is a call for conversion to receive the salvific gifts that are freely extended to the covenant people and to all nations who turn to the Lord God of Israel.  The oracle also includes a reference to the renewal of the Davidic covenant and a future everlasting covenant.  Christians read this passage as an invitation to take part in the new and eternal covenant sealed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, the heir, and inheritor of the Davidic covenant.  God promised a future Davidic Messiah would inaugurate a new and eternal covenant in a Messianic banquet.  Jesus and His Kingdom of the Universal Church fulfill Isaiah’s prophetic oracle.  Jesus invites all who are thirsty to come to the “living water” of Christian Baptism (Jn 4:10, 14).  He also offers food to satisfy the spiritually hungry at the altar of His Eucharistic table where they can receive the Body and Blood of the Lord to nourish them on their journey to salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Lord's invitation to the Covenant banquet
1 Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water!  You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!  2 Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?  Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.  3 Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.  I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

The Lord’s invitation to the covenant banquet in Isaiah, Chapter 55, is part of the second section of the Book of Isaiah that is called “The Book of Consolation.”  It began with a prologue in chapter 40.  The oracle is a call for conversion and to receive the salvific gifts of the Lord that are freely extended to God’s covenant people and to all nations (verses 1-2) who turn to the Lord.  In verse 3, Christians read the reference to an everlasting covenant and the renewal of the Davidic covenant (see 2 Sam 7:16; 23:5; 1 Kng 2:4; 11:9-20; 1 Chr 13:5; Sir 45:25) as an invitation to take part in the new and eternal covenant sealed by the Blood of Jesus Christ, who is the heir and inheritor of the Davidic covenant (Lk 1:32-33).  It is a new covenant that promises a Messianic Banquet as a present and future reality.

Jesus repeated the invitation in the words He spoke to the woman of Samaria (Jn 4:10-14), to the Jews worshiping at the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:37-38), and when He instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist, saying: “This is my body, which will be given for you … This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Lk 22:19-20).  Isaiah’s oracle also looks forward to the future reality of the Eschatological Banquet of the Saints, the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” at the end of time (Rev 19:6-9).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Mesianic Banquet of the Eucharist

Concerning the Messianic Banquet of the Eucharist, Pope Paul VI wrote: “How could we fail to take part in this encounter, to partake of the banquet that Christ has lovingly prepared for us?  Our participation should be dignified and filled with joy.  Christ, crucified and glorified, comes among his disciples to draw them all into the power of his resurrection.  It is the pinnacle, here on earth, of the covenant of love between God and his people: the sign and source of Christian joy, the preparation for the eternal banquet in heaven” (Gaudete in Domino, 322).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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Ps 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18

The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16-17)
Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This psalm highlights God’s goodness, covenant, love and forgiveness, especially as seen in his providential care.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

The treasure of God’s Law

PSALM—We sing, “God gives us food in due season.” God is the Creator and Master of the earth. Humanity looks to Him to provide the food that comes from the earth in all its seasons. God rules His Kingdom with justice, coupled with mercy. He responds with compassion and salvation to everyone who invokes His name and seeks communion with Him.

Introduction to the Psalm

The title of Psalm 145 is A Song of Praise. Of David.  This alphabetical Psalm, ascribed to King David, begins and ends in praise of Yahweh.  In verses 8-9, the psalmist focuses on the grace and mercy of the Lord, quoting from God’s revelation of Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7.  Those verses refer to God’s attributes of goodness, the covenant He formed with Israel, and the love He extends to all (verses 8-9).

Since God is master of the earth, humanity looks to Him for the food that comes from the land in all seasons (verses 15-16). God’s Kingdom is a kingdom of justice (verse 17) because He responds with compassion and mercy to everyone who invokes His name and seeks His truth (verse 18).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
St. john of the Cross: On how to pray
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Notice that verse 18 tells us how we should pray.  St. John of the Cross wrote: “There is no better way to be granted the petitions that we hold in our hearts than to put all the strength of our prayer into what is most pleasing to God; for then he will not only grant us what we ask—our salvation; he will also give us what he sees we need and what would be good for us, even though we did not petition him for it” (Ascent of Mount Carmel, 3.44.2).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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Rom 8:35, 37-39

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The cost of fidelity

SECOND READING—These verses may be based upon Paul’s own experience described in 2Corinthians 4:8-10:

“We are in difficulties on all sides but never despair; we have been persecuted but never deserted; knocked down but never killed; always wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body.”

Paul emphasizes the fact that suffering will be a constant threat for the believer, just as it was in the life of Christ. Such sufferings are not to be interpreted as punishment but as the cost of fidelity, which brings about a closer union with God.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

——–

SECOND READING—No commentary this week on the second reading. Go to the first reading and the Gospel.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.
Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

No power can prevent God from loving us

SECOND READING—Paul’s theology of suffering is quite simple: Pain and deprivation cannot separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ; rather these actually bring us closer to the realization of glory thatis in the Risen Lord. His theology of superhuman powers is equally simply and direct: No created power, on earth or in the sky, can separate us from the love of Christ. All this does not mean that Paul takes suffering and opposition lightly. His own experience gives evidence that those are not to be taken lightly. But nothing beyond our control can ever separate us from the love of Christ. We have no need to consult any astrological chart to see if there is any threat to us today. The love of Christ keeps us safe.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

The privilege of being Christian

SECOND READING—Today’s Romans periscope contains one of the most consoling lines in all of Scripture: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Paul uses this entire passage to stress the importance of each individual Christian. He’s certain every one of us is “conformed to the image of (God’s) Son.” No wonder he constantly reminds his communities that we together make up the body of the risen Christ in this world. All of us are other Christs. The only condition for being so privileged is that we love God, and show that love by giving ourselves for those around us. That’s the essential part of the metanoia Jesus expects of his followers. Because of a complete reversal of our value system, we’ve come to believe that to experience good in our lives, we’ve got to become a force of good in other people’s lives.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

God has called the Christian to share in His glory

SECOND READING—St. Paul offers a hymn praising God’s love and faithfulness. Paul wrote that Jesus Christ frees those who accept Him as their Lord and Savior from the dominion of sin and death. He does this by releasing us from being enslaved by sin, the bonds of the old ritual Law, and from a self-centered life to a new Christ-centered life. Paul assures Christians, through their rebirth into the family of God through the Sacrament of Christian Baptism, they receive freedom and power over the forces that drag humanity down into iniquities that lead to the destruction of both the body and soul. By assuming humanity’s fragility, God the Son has triumphed over sin and the grave through His death and glorious Resurrection. He has not only conquered all these destructive forces, but He has communicated that victory to those who have accepted His call to eternal salvation and a bodily resurrection at the end of time.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The context of today's reading

At this point in St. Paul’s letter to the Christians of Rome, his words burst forth in a hymn extolling God’s love and faithfulness.  He assured them (and also assures us) that nothing can separate us from God’s love.  Paul wrote that Jesus Christ has freed Christians from the dominion of sin and death, from a disordered love of self, and slavery to the old Law.  He assures Christians that their rebirth into the family of God through the Sacrament of Christian Baptism gives them freedom and power over the forces in life that drag humanity down into iniquities that lead to the destruction of both body and soul.  By assuming humankind’s fragile nature, Jesus Christ has allowed humanity to triumph through His defeat of death and glorious resurrection.  He has not only conquered all those destructive forces, but He has also communicated that victory to those who have accepted God the Father’s call to salvation.  He did this for those who have been molded to the pattern of his Son … those that he called, he justified, and those that he has justified he has brought into glory (Rom 8:29b-30).  These are the ones Paul first wrote about in Romans 1:17, The one who is righteous by faith will live!  Now, in a jubilant hymn of praise, Paul sums up all the gifts of divine love that humanity has received through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Paul affirms God's dominion over universe

St. Paul begins his hymn with a rhetorical question in verse 36.  It is as though Paul is assuming the role of a prosecuting attorney in a law court examining the Christian called to testify to his faith.   Old Testament parallels can be found in Job chapters 1-2 and Zechariah chapter 3. In verse 37, Paul answers his question with a definitive “NO!” and offers a list of temporal hardships that cannot have power over us or remove us from the love of God.

In answer to his question, spoken on behalf of the Christian responding to this examination, Paul affirms God’s dominion over the entire cosmos and all that it contains.  In verses 38-39, he lists powers that are subject to God’s authority.

  1. Death: Sin is the author of death, but Christ has conquered both sin and death which no longer have power over justified believers;
  2. Life: God is the author of life, and it is through the saving work of Christ that the Christian has received the gift of eternal life;
  3. Angels: “Angels” may refer to fallen angels in partnership with Satan (Rev 12:7-9).
  4. Powers and principalities: These are demon powers like fallen angels that are hostile to humanity; these are still subject to the power of God (see Ephesians 1:21; 3:18).
  5. Nor the heights nor the depths:  Paul is referring to the opposite extremes of Heaven and the grave, and he continues: nor any other creature (created thing) will be able to separate us and the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul assures us that neither power from the natural world, nor any power from the supernatural realm can rupture the union of love between Christ and the Christian.
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Notice that Paul does not mention our Free Will

However, there is one force Paul does not name, and that is our free will.  Can the Christian, exercising his/her free will, rupture his/her union with God?  In Romans 8:35-38, St. Paul notes trials and forces but not sins; it is a clear distinction from what he had to say about the list of sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.  The misinterpretation of this passage led Martin Luther to believe that even sin couldn’t separate us from Jesus Christ.  Luther concluded that man suffered from a total depravity of nature, but Christ’s sacrificial death covered our sinful nature like snow covers a dunghill.  The Catholic Church rejects Luther’s doctrine of the depravity of nature and teaches that we are not simply covered, as in the coving of sins in the Old Testament, but we are reborn and transformed (CCC 168, 403).  Our new life in the Spirit provides the fertile soil in which the Holy Spirit continues to provide Christian growth as long as we seek to imitate Christ in our lives and reject sin.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Protestant doctrine of 'Eternal Security'

Some Protestant churches, confused in their understanding of faith and works, have come to understand through the teachings of Martin Luther that nothing, not even sin can separate us from our salvation.  Some Protestant churches have understood this doctrine to mean once one is “saved” their salvation is eternally secure.  Luther’s doctrine is often called “the doctrine of eternal security” or “security of the believer.”  Luther did not see sin as a hindrance to salvation as long as one prayed and confessed sins.  Quoting from the letters of Martin Luther:

  • It does not matter what people do; it only matters what they believe. God does not need our actions (Luther’s Works, Erlangen, vol. 29, page 126).
  • Be a sinner and sin boldly, but have stronger faith and rejoice in Christ, who is the victor of sin, death, and the world.  Do not for a moment imagine that this life is the abiding place of justice: Sin must be committed; sin cannot tear you away from him, even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders (Letter from Luther to Melancthon, August 1, 1521).

Luther was not advocating sinning for grace to abound all the more, but that repentance eliminated the stain of sin and offered complete restoration with no ill effects.  He taught that as long as one prayed and confessed the wrong, the sin could not cost one’s salvation since Jesus forgave the sin through His sacrifice on the Cross.  Luther believed that so long as one was truly “saved” through a profession of faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord (the false doctrine of salvation through “faith alone”), one was saved no matter what sin one committed.  St. James refuted this doctrine in James 2:24, and it is the only place in Scripture where the words “faith alone” appear.  Using the Canaanite woman Rahab as an example, James wrote: See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (bold added for emphasis).

St. John the Apostle taught that prayer could not heal all sins, and he distinguished between venial and deadly/mortal sins (see 1 John 3:3-10; 5:16, and CCC# 1854-61).  Mortal sin requires confession to a priest who hears the confession “in the person of Christ.”  God can forgive all sin, even mortal sin, but it is necessary to address one’s accountability for sin through an act of penance.   Forgiveness is one thing, but justice through accountability is another.  Confession, genuine contrition, forgiveness, and an act of penance are all necessary for the restoration of fellowship with God.

Some of our Protestant brothers and sisters point to Romans 8:38 as a proof text for the doctrine of “eternal security”/”security of the believer.”  However, this verse refers to God’s love; it does not address our salvation, and the verse lists demons (powers and principalities), and angels, and things of creation, but it does not mention sin.  Jesus commanded St. John to send seven letters to seven churches in the Book of Revelation.   The “perfect” number seven, in essence, represented all the churches that formed the one true Church of Jesus Christ.  In those letters, Jesus warned that only those who persevere to the end and “prove victorious” will receive the gift of salvation.   If salvation is already assured, why is such a warning necessary, and why is there a need for perseverance?

In his letters, St. Paul continually warned the faithful that salvation was a process that took place during their journey through life. They must carefully guard their salvation on that journey: So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).  And Paul said of himself: The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18, emphasis added).  Paul also wrote about safeguarding his salvation like someone who is running a race with a clear goal: that goal being his salvation.  He concludes the passage by writing: No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor 9:27).  And just before the passage in our reading of Romans 8:38-39, Paul wrote in Romans 8:24-25: For in hope we are saved.  Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.  If St. Paul was concerned for carefully guarding his salvation, so should we all have the same concern.

Paul wrote that we “hope” for Heaven because, even if we have been justified through our baptism and faithful in our journey to salvation, we know we still might lose our salvation through our own free will by entering into mortal sin.  We must, therefore, cling to the promises of Christ, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and only we can separate ourselves from the salvation Christ has won for us.  In the sixth century AD, St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles, wrote: “Spiritual souls are not separated by torments, but carnal souls are sometimes separated by idle gossip.  The cruel sword cannot separate the former, but carnal affections remove the latter.  Nothing hard breaks down spiritual men, but even flattering words corrupt the carnal” (Caesarius of Arles (470-542), Sermons, 82.2).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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Mt 14:13-21

Jesus Feeds 5,000 by Eric Feather
Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Jesus feeds thousands

GOSPEL—This miracle is told six times in the four Gospels. This underlines its importance in the life of the early church. Only Matthew mentions that Jesus decides to go to a quiet place after he hears of the death of John the Baptist. Jesus most likely has to be aware of what happens to those who ‘speak truth to power.’

But Jesus’ quiet time is interrupted by the crowds hungry for his teaching. Matthew tells us that when Jesus sees the large crowds, he feels compassion for them. Jesus’ need for solitude is overtaken by his care for the people. When Jesus’ disciples encourage him to let the people go so they can buy some food before the local deli closes, Jesus challenges them to give them something to eat. We can almost hear the disciples say, “You must be kidding, Master! How can we feed thousands of people?” Jesus goes on to feed the thousands with a few loaves and fish. Matthew, writing several decades later for mostly Jewish Christians, sees what Jesus did as a fulfillment of how God fed their ancestors in the desert. Also, for Matthew, this miracle points to the Eucharist. The gestures and words are like those used at the Last Supper: “He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them.” The twelve leftover baskets point to the superabundance of what God offers us, his people.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

God calls everyone to the feast

GOSPEL—In another deserted place Jesus also reminded people of the lavishness of God. In Matthew’s story of the feeding of the crowd, Jesus calls his disciples to be hosts to the hungry. “There is no need to send them away, you feed them.” The disciples’ reply is often ours. “We haven’t got anything, except five loaves and a couple of fish.” In other words you couldn’t expect us to do much with this.

Jesus said the blessing over the food, broke it and passed it on to the disciples, who in turn, gave the food to the people.

As God so generously feeds us, so we must share this “food” with others. What has been given to us freely so we must give freely to others.

We give the bread and wine of compassion, of mercy, of faithfulness, of, love, of joy. Not just in small doses, measured out, but pressed down flowing over, a banquet not a counter lunch.

The Eucharist is the great sign to us that, as we are fed so must we feed.

Unfortunately we have made our Eucharist table a sign of contradiction; when we exclude people who seek to be feed, who need to be fed. I say we because the laws that keep people away from the table are human laws. People say that discipline is important but Jesus never used it to exclude people from his grace.

The first sign of the beginnings of reconciliation in a family are often when someone accepts the invitation to come to the table. In the warmth of human fellowship, the grace of God has a fertile ground to begin the healing of old hurts. Let us imitate God and call everyone to the feast.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permision.
Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

Jesus feeds the crowd with what the disciples offer

GOSPEL—A little bit of context will help us here: The Feeding of the 5000 occurs in that great narrative section(13:53 to 17:27) which prepares us for the Discourse on the Church in Chapter 18. Jesus is shaping the hearts and minds of his disciples for the role they will have to play in the leadership of that community to which he invites all people. The leaders ofIsrael have not received the message as they might have (13:54~58). Jesus himself will ultimately be rejected and killed as was John the Baptist (14: 1-12). Now, this miracle and sign is given so that those who accept Jesus will know what their proper role and responsibility will be in the assembly here on earth.

Matthew clearly wants us to remember that God does the feeding of the people in the Desert of Sinai after the Exodus. Now, it is Jesus who fulfills that role. Connection is also made with the Prophet Isaiah who sees messianic times as characterized by an abundance of food and drink (Isaiah 25:6). The Messiah has come with this feeding of the multitude here and now. Bread is the sign of salvation which Jesus brings (Matthew 15:26; Isaiah 55:2-3).

We even look forward to that great banquet in heaven at the end of time (Revelation 19:9) every time we are fed by Jesus, in that deserted place of Judea or in the ‘deserts’of our everyday neediness.

The early Christian community must have seen thegreatest significance in this miracle story from the life of Jesus and his disciples. This is the only miracle that is reported in each of the four Gospels. (Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6: 1-13) Matthew understood this miracle story to be intimatelylinked with the action of the Last Supper where Jesus again took, blessed, broke and gave the bread to his apostles. The feeding of the 5000 anticipates that other mighty feeding where the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Moreover, bothof these miracles look forward to the eternal banquet with God the Father in heaven.

If the Church community wants to derive life from the eucharistic feeding and to share eventually in the heavenly feast, it must be willing to bring ‘barley loaves and fish,’ the food of the poor, to the Lord for his use and his blessing. Our poor, sinful lives are all we have to offer. We are expected to bring what we do have and to hold nothing back.

All the hungers of the human heart call out to Christ for satisfaction. Every yearning of our lives represents a need for God thatonly Jesus Christ can satisfy. In the Catholic tradition, we are aware that Jesus continues the ministry of feeding the multitude through the ministries of the Church. We are not only individually responsible for feeding the world, but we are corporately responsible also. As a Church community, we will make Christ visible in society today as we engage the Church in the works of mercy. Our Sunday Eucharist takes on credibility in society when it is intimately linked with the concrete daily needs of people. Hunger for education, hunger for love, hunger for peace, hunger for shelter and for clothing must all the satisfied with the same generosity with which we are willing to share the Eucharist.

©2020 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Changing people’s value systems

GOSPEL—In the June 2012 issue of St. Anthony Messenger, I wrote about not appreciating how natural it is to see what we expect to see and nothing more. I stated that all that changed for me after having read Chabris and Simons’ bestselling book The Invisible Gorilla. The two psychologists conducted an experiment in which people were instructed to count the number of passes a specific basketball team made. While the passes were taking place, a person dressed in a gorilla outfit walked among the players, at one time even standing in front of them. When the experimental time expired, the people were asked two questions: How many passes did the team make, and, did anyone see the gorilla. Most participants nailed the exact number of passes, but almost no one noticed the gorilla! Though the gorilla was right in front of their eyes, they didn’t see it. It left no doubt that we usually see what we’re programed to see, not what’s actually taking place in front of us.

Scholars like the late Raymond Brown constantly reminded us that the itinerant preacher we follow never intended to found a church as we know it. He certainly wasn’t concerned with setting up an institution. The reason he preached was to help his disciples see things others never noticed, not because they were bad people, but because they didn’t know what to look for. All of us experience the same reality, but each of us experiences it in different ways.

Matthew believes that, more than anything else, Jesus of Nazareth was concerned with what his followers saw, not with what they knew. As I look back on the “religion classes” of my youth, the emphasis was always on gaining more knowledge. The Baltimore catechism we faithfully used simply got thicker by the year. More pages were added to make certain the older we were as Catholics, the more we knew about Catholicism.

With that knowledge-oriented frame of mind, it bothered me to eventually discover that the historical Jesus never preached to any one community for more than a couple of days. What could they learn in such a short time? I probably knew much more about my faith after just a month of studying my grade school catechism than they’d ever know from such a short period of instruction, especially if a former carpenter from Capernaum was their teacher. I’m no doubt blessed today with much more time and recourses to share the old and new with my community than Jesus ever had with any of his communities.

Perhaps some of us preachers must work at changing our own frames of mind. What are we trying to accomplish by the accumulated hours we spend in preparing our homilies and the environment in which they’re delivered? Are we content to give our communities only an experience of the institutional church instead of God’s kingdom among us? Our sacred Christian authors would certainly contend that if we’re not into helping people change their value systems — to see what Jesus helped his followers to see,  we’re wasting our (and their) time.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

The Kingdom parables continued

GOSPEL—Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the more than five thousand in the Gospel Reading recalls other miracle feedings from the Old Testament.  Matthew’s account of the miracle is not only meant to remind us of Jesus’ compassion but also to prepare us for the promise of a greater miracle.  The Jews in the crowd saw Jesus’ feeding miracle in the context of the miracle of the manna feeding during the children of Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt and forty years in the wilderness.  The people in the crowd recognized Jesus as the new Moses who had come to liberate His people and the new David, who came to re-establish the eternal Kingdom God promised to David (2 Sam 7:16, 23:5).  Jesus’ feeding miracles in the Gospels and the Bread of Life discourse look forward to the day when Jesus, the Davidic Messiah, would give His flesh and blood as food and drink for the salvation of humanity (Jn 6:51, 53-56).  Jesus keeps that promise as He continues to give His faithful the spiritual nourishment they need at the Eucharistic Banquet of His earthly Kingdom of the Church that will sustain them on their journey to eternal salvation.

Be aware today when you celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist that you are taking part in an even greater miracle than Jesus’ feeding of the more than five thousand on that mountainside in the Galilee over two thousand years ago.  Jesus, the eternal Bridegroom, calls you to come forward to the altar table of His Messianic banquet of the New and eternal Covenant.  In the Eucharist, Jesus nourishes you with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity on your journey to eternal salvation.  It also provides you with a foretaste of the promised Wedding Banquet of the Lamb and His Bride (the Church) in the heavenly Kingdom after He returns in glory at the End of the Age (Rev 19:7-9).   Blessed are you if you are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb!

Jesus withdraws to a quiet place

The story of the feeding miracle of the five thousand begins with Jesus withdrawing to a quiet place, probably to pray and to grieve over St. John the Baptist’s suffering and death.  St. Mark tells us that Jesus invited the disciples to join Him, to “rest a while,” and to go by boat to “a deserted place,” which St. Luke records was near Bethsaida on the northeast side of the lake.  In the fourth Gospel, St. John includes the information in Mt 6:3 that Jesus went up onto a “mountain;” the Greek word is oros (also see Mt 14:23 and 15:29 where the inspired writer uses the same word).  It is a significant addition since the word “mountain” has symbolic significance in Scripture associated with revelations of God (cf., Gen 22:2; Ex 19:16-19; 24:12-13; 2 Chr 3:1; Mt 5:1; 17:1-2; Acts 1:11-12; etc.)  Also, see the chart “Holy Mountains of God.” Many people saw them leave and followed them, arriving before them (Mk 6:30-33).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Why the large crowds?

Taking pity on the crowds of people because “they were like sheep without a shepherd,” Jesus began to teach them (Mk 6:34).  Sts. Mark and John set the event of the feeding of the five thousand in the early spring when the grass was green.  Large crowds of Jewish pilgrims and Gentile converts were journeying from Asia Minor and Mesopotamia through the Galilee to Jerusalem for the annual festival of Passover and the required pilgrim feast of Unleavened Bread that together covered eight days (Mk 6:39; Jn 6:4).  It is the second Passover of Jesus’ ministry.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Old Testament context of the miracle'

At first glance, this story of the feeding miracle seems to be only concerned with Jesus’ compassion and His supernatural ability to meet the needs of the people; however, there is so much more to understand the significance of this event.  His miracle feeding recalls other miracle feedings from the Old Testament and allusions to King David, who God anointed to “shepherd” His “flock.”  For example, see Ex 16:4-13, 35; Num 11:31-34; 1 Sam 16:11-13; 2 Sam 5:1-2; 1 Kng 17:8-16; 2 Kng 4:42-44 and Ps 23:

  • The feeding miracles associated with Moses in the Exodus journey to the Promised Land in the unending supply of the manna and the two times it rained quail.
  • The prophet Elijah caused the widow of Zarephath’s nearly empty jar of meal and her depleted supply of oil to provide food throughout an extended famine.
  • The prophet Elisha multiplied twenty loaves of barley bread to feed one hundred men.

And there is the allusion to Jesus as the David-like shepherd who cares for His flock and who leads them to lie down a green pasture as He prepares the table of the Messiah’s banquet before them (Ps 23).  Jesus is the new Moses, the new David, and the prophet to whom the people must listen promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Miracle as preparation for Jesus' Bread of Life discoure

Matthew’s telling of the miracle of feeding the more than five thousand is not only meant to remind us of God’s compassion in the Old Testament but also to prepare us for a greater miracle.  It prepares us for Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse, which took place the day after the miracle feeding.  In that discourse, the Jews saw Jesus’ feeding miracle the day before in the context of Moses’ feeding miracle of the manna.  They recognized Jesus as the new Moses who came to liberate His people and the new David, who came to re-establish the eternal Davidic Kingdom (see Jn 6:14-15; 30-31).  In the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus promises that He will one day give His flesh and blood as food and drink for the salvation of man (Jn 6:22-65).  His miracle feeding and the discourse the next day is a foreshadowing of the giving of Himself in the Eucharist.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The miracle's details

In our Gospel reading, Jesus miraculously transformed five loaves of barley bread (only St. John includes the detail that it was less expensive barley bread in Jn 6:9) and two fishes into enough food to feed the crowd.  First, He tells them to recline in groups on the grass (Mark’s Gospel records that the groups were composed of fifty and one hundred people in Mk 6:39-40).   Then Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and gave the food to His disciples to distribute to the people.  Scripture records that five thousand men were fed, not counting the women and children, so the number feed was perhaps twice or three times as many.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Significance of 5 loaves and 2 fishes

This miracle feeding was a supernatural event and not an example of the people sharing food they already brought with them.  The number five symbolically represents power and grace, and any multiple signifies an abundance of the symbolic nature of the number.  In this case, the number points to the abundance of God’s grace and His supernatural power in meeting the needs of His people.  The five loaves and two fishes may also have symbolic significance.  Together they add up to the number seven; it is also one of the “perfect” numbers (3, 7, 10, and 12), signifying perfection, fullness and completion, especially spiritual perfection (see the document “The Significance of Numbers in Scripture“).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Chart: Comparison of miracle to the Last Supper

Notice how carefully Matthew has provided several similarities between the miracle feeding of the more than five thousand and the miracle feeding at the Last Supper that fulfilled the promise of the Messianic Banquet by the prophet Isaiah in our first reading (see Mt 26:20, 26-30).  Matthew used the same wording and in the same order:

The Feeding Miracle of the More Than Five Thousand The Last Supper
1. It was evening when the meal took place (Mt 14:15) 1. It was evening when the meal took place (Mt 26:20)
2. They (the crowd) reclined to eat (Mt 14:19) 2. They (the disciples) reclined to eat (Mt 26:20)
3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 14:19) 3. Jesus blessed the food (Mt 26:26)
4. He broke the loaves (Mt 14:19) 4. He broke the loaves (Mt 26:26)
5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 14:19) 5. Jesus passed the food to the disciples (Mt 26:26)

The miracle feeding of the five thousand foreshadowed the first Eucharistic banquet at the Last Supper, but in no way was it the same miracle.  It was not a sacred feast as in the eating of the Passover sacrifice at the Last Supper on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  In the feeding miracle of the more than five thousand, the bread was barley bread (Jn 6:9) and not unleavened wheat bread, and fish was the meat of the meal and not the roasted lamb or goat kid of the Passover sacrifice.  The miracle multiplication of the loaves and fishes prefigures the feeding the Eucharist to the faithful of the world and the promise of the eschatological banquet after the “final harvest” of souls at the end of time (Is 25:6; 62:8-9; 65:13-14; Jer 31:12-14; Ez 44:16; Rev 19:7-9).

The Catechism interprets Jesus’ two miracle feedings of the five and four thousand: “The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributed the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.   The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification.  It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s Kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ” (CCC 1335).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Miracle as prefiguring of the eschatological banquet

The Jews who took part in the feeding miracle certainly understood it as a miracle similar to the feeding miracles in the Exodus journey (Jn 6:14, 30-31).  The Gospel writers and the early Church Fathers also understood the miracle as prefiguring the feeding miracle of the Eucharist (see Jn 6:22-65).  They also saw it as a prefiguring the promise of the coming eschatological banquet in the heavenly Kingdom (see the verses listed above), recalling the promises of the prophets like Isaiah in our first reading and Isaiah 26:6-8 ~  On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.  On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever.  The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken (Is 26:6-8).  The feeding miracle of the five thousand (not counting women and children) appears in all four Gospels (Mk 6:31-34; Lk 9:10-17; Jn 6:1-13).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The crowds ate and were all satisfied
20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over, twelve wicker baskets full.  21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

That each person had enough to satisfy their hunger may be an allusion to the promise in Deuteronomy 8:9 that covenant obedience will mean that the people will eat bread without stint and where you will lack nothing.  However, the verse also contains the following warning: But when you have eaten your fill, you must bless the LORD, your God (Dt 8:10).  The warning is followed by God’s command to remember the provisions He has made for His people and to be grateful (Dt 8:11).  We should act upon this command for gratitude whenever we receive the Eucharistic “bread of Christ” in the sacrifice of the Mass, and not take the gift for granted.

It is also significant that after everyone ate until they were full, the disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers.  The Greek word kophinos in verse 20 describes large baskets made of wicker.  It is the same Greek word for the basket used to lower St. Paul over the wall of the city of Damascus (Acts 9:25).  In the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture, twelve is the number of divine order in government (i.e., the twelve sons of Israel who were the physical fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles who became the spiritual fathers of the new Israel of the New Covenant Church).  In St. John’s Gospel account, the word translated “fragments” or ‘scraps” is the plural in most translations, but in the Greek text, the word is singular and not plural (Jn 6:12).  The Greek the word, klasma (Strong’s #2801), in the singular means a single piece of the “scrap or fragment left over, indicating one whole (IBGE, vol. IV, page 265).  The Gospel of John emphasizes the identity of the fragment (singular) with the original loaves left over from the meal of the five barley loaves (Jn 6:13 NJB).  The unique meaning of this passage was obvious to the early Church as indicated in the Eucharistic Prayer found in the document known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, or more simply as The Didache [Teaching]: “Concerning the broken bread: ‘We give Thee thanks, Our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou hast made known to us through Jesus, Thy Servant. To Thee be the glory for evermore.  As this broken bread was scattered over the mountain and then, when gathered, became one, so may Thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom'” (The Didache, 9:3-4, Eucharistic Prayer; written circa AD 50-120; underlining added for emphasis added).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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Life Messages

We need to nourish our souls with Jesus in Word and Sacrament.

We nourish our souls with the Word of God (by listening to God through reading the Bible) and with the Bread of Life (by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion). We need to find time to be with Christ both in personal and family prayer and in Adoration of the Eucharist whenever this is available. One way of listening to God is to read a passage in the Bible until it speaks to the heart, then stop to reflect on the message God is conveying to our hearts. The next step is to respond to God by prayer, which is talking to Him, as to a friend in conversation, telling Him everything and asking Him for whatever we need.

We need to be “Eucharistic ministers”

We too, can perform miracles in our own time and place, by imitating the four “Eucharistic actions” of Jesus: take humbly and generously what God gives us, bless it by offering it to others in God’s love, break away from our own needs and selfish interests for the sake of others, give with joy-filled gratitude to God who has blessed us with so much. 3) We need to be generous in sharing God’s blessings: We need to share our blessings with others around us, generously and sacrificially, in order to alleviate their spiritual and physical hunger. God lavishly blesses the large-hearted, who generously and sacrificially share their resources with others.

“You give them something to eat.”

Today’s readings tell us that God really cares about His people and that there is enough and more than enough for everybody. Studies show that the world today produces enough food in grain alone to provide every human being on the planet with 3,600 calories a day, not counting such foods as tuber crops, vegetables, beans, nuts, fruits, meats, and fish.   Over the past twenty-five years, food production has exceeded world population growth by about 16%.   This means that there is no good reason for any human being in today’s world to go hungry. But even in a rich country like the U.S.A., one child out of five grows up in poverty, three million people are homeless and 4000 unborn babies are aborted every day. “The problem in feeding the world’s hungry population lies with our political lack of will, our economic system biased in favor of the affluent, our militarism, and our tendency to blame the victims of social tragedies, such as famine.   We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished. Therefore, it is necessary to arouse a sense of responsibility in individuals, especially among those more blessed with this world’s goods.” (Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra (1961) 157-58).

It is too easy to blame God, too easy to blame governments, too easy to see these things as other people’s problems. They are also our problems. That is the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate here today. In other words, as Christians we have to commit ourselves to share and to work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is a caring Father, but He wants our co-operation. That’s what the early Christians did, generously sharing what they had with the needy. They were convinced that everything they needed to experience a fulfilling life was already there, in the gifts and talents of the people around them. People of our time have to be encouraged to share, even when they think they have nothing to offer. Whatever we offer through Jesus will have a life-giving effect in those who receive it. We are shown two attitudes in John’s account (John 6:7-9) of the Gospel story: that of Philip and that of Andrew. Philip said, in effect: “The situation is hopeless; nothing can be done.” But Andrew’s attitude was: “I’ll see what I can do, and I will trust Jesus to do the rest.” Let us have Andrew’s attitude.

God blesses those who share their talents with loving commitment

This is illustrated by Mother Teresa who went to serve the slum-dwellers of Calcutta with just twenty cents in her pocket.   When she died forty-nine years later, God had turned her original twenty cents into eighty schools, three hundred mobile dispensaries, seventy leprosy clinics, thirty homes for the dying, thirty homes for abandoned children and forty thousand volunteers from all over the world to help her. We can begin our own humble efforts at “sharing” right here in our parish by participating in the works of charity done by organizations like St. Vincent DePaul Society, the Knights of Columbus and so many other volunteer groups. We may say, “I do not have enough money or talent to make any difference.”   But we need to remember that the young boy in the story had only five loaves of bread and two fish.  The Bible guarantees that every believer has at least one gift from the Holy Spirit. This is our one “tiny fish.” Perhaps our “fish” is not money, but a talent or an ability that God has given us. We all have something. If we have never trusted God with our time, or our talent, or our treasure…all our resources…this is the time to start. Let us offer everything to God saying, “Here is what I am and what I have Lord; use me.” And He will, blessing and amplifying everything beyond our expectations. As we begin to give, we will discover that the Lord moves in where we are not adequate, and He abundantly supplies what is needed. When we give what we have to God, and we ask Him to bless it, it is then the miracle happens.

We need to eat Jesus the Bread of life

How do we eat Jesus Christ? How do we digest the Son of God? One way is by maintaining daily private devotions, spending time alone with Christ, apart from the family and the busyness of the day. It means taking some time – five, ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes – each day to spend in the presence of Christ, the Bread of Life. We can take the Bible, read a passage until something speaks to the heart, then stop, reflect on what has been and ask, “What is God saying to me in this passage? Is there a command to obey? A promise to claim? An example to follow? A sin to avoid? A prayer to echo?” This is called reflection or meditation. We get quiet and still, focus our mind on God and his Word. The next step is to respond to God by prayer which is talking to Him, speaking to Him as to a friend in conversation, telling Him everything and asking Him for whatever we need. By doing this day in and day out, we will be feeding our soul with the Bread of Life. We will grow strong within. Our Faith will mature. We can eat the Bread of Life also in the public worship of the Church at the Eucharistic celebration, when that is available to us. We gather where fellow-believers join hearts and voices in praising God and listening to His Word taught and preached in a Church service. Since Christ is the heart and center of the Bible, we can say that the Bible is the Bread of Life. When the Bible is preached, the pastor is breaking the Bread of Life for us. Christians feed on the Word of God as they hear it in Church. In Holy Communion, we really eat the glorified body of the Risen, Living Lord and drink his blood and share in his divine life.

Visit Fr. Tony’s Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony’s Life Messages have be used with permission.
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Connections

Cheeseburger Bill

Statistics tell us that Americans eat 75 acres of pizza, 53 million hot dogs, 167 million eggs, 3 million gallons of ice cream, and 3,000 tons of candy a day. As a result, fifty-five percent of American adults are overweight and 23 percent of us are obese, costing this country about $118 billion in lost wages and medical expenses annually.

On March 10, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill known as the “Cheeseburger Bill” designed to protect fast food companies from lawsuits filed by overweight people. One billion of the world’s richest people consume 80 percent of the earth’s resources. Another five billion consume 15 percent, leaving 5% for 840 million chronically malnourished people, most of them women and children. Seven million children in the world under the age of five die each year from malnutrition. Someone has noted that the average person BLINKS his eyes 13 times every minute, and in every minute 13 people starve to death. Even in the U.S., there are 3.8 million families who experience hunger, and up to 12 million families are concerned about having enough food to feed their families.

The problem is not how much food is available; the problem is distribution. In the U.S., food production has tripled since World War II while the population has only doubled, so why are there hungry people? The percent of personal income given to charity in the United States was 2.9 percent during the Great Depression and 2.5 percent in 2002 and less in 2014. Is hunger a problem of production or a lack of faith? Hunger is real. And food is the subject of the miracle in today’s Gospel when Jesus miraculously fed the nearly 20,000 people present on that Galilean hillside. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony

Hams for the Hungry and Aspirin for the Sick

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

Four years ago, young Matthew LeSage, a third-grader, wanted to do something to help the hungry in his city. So, he started a program, Hams for the Hungry. This year, in its fourth year, Hams for the Hungry will raise $40,000 to brighten the holiday season for people with limited resources.

Matthew’s story reminds me of another young man, 13 years old at the time, who read about Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s missionary work in Africa. He wanted to help. He had enough money to buy one bottle of aspirin. He wrote to the Air Force and asked if they could fly over Dr. Schweitzer’s hospital and drop the bottle down to him. A radio station broadcast the story about this young fellow’s concern for helping others. Others responded as well. Eventually, he was flown by the government to Schweitzer’s hospital along with 4 1/2 tons of medical supplies worth $400,000 freely given by thousands of people. This, of course, would be the equivalent of millions of dollars today. When Dr. Schweitzer heard the story, he said, “I never thought one child could do so much.”

In John’s account, our story from Matthew’s Gospel is about a young man who didn’t have much. But what he did have, he offered to Christ. And thousands of hungry people were fed. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony

We are over-eating ourselves to death
Junk food for the souls

by Fr. Anthony Kadavil

What is feeding our spirits? Many Americans get their food from television. It is reported that the average child watches twenty-three hours of television per week. By the time a child reaches age eighteen, he has watched twenty-three thousand hours of television, equivalent to three years of his life. And what do they get on television, what feeds their minds and hearts? They are fed materialism through the constant appearance of commercials, often six at a time. In 1976, it is said, television stations ran three hundred thirty-five thousand commercials per month! In these commercials we are fed with a materialistic view of life.

We are told that things make life happy and worthwhile. Buy, buy, and have all the good things in life! In addition, television is feeding us with sex and violence, more of these coming each year. By the time a child reaches age eighteen, it is claimed that he has seen eighteen thousand murders. On children’s television cartoons, an act of violence is shown at the rate of one per minute. These scenes of violence are sowing the seeds of hatred, brutality, and vengefulness in the hearts of people.

The tragedy of our times is that we are content to feed our souls with ‘empty calories,” when we could be getting a spiritual banquet. We are living on chaff and husks rather than the good meat of a steak. . (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony

Visit Fr. Tony's Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony's Life Messages have be used with permission.
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Opening Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, you alone are the bread that satisfies our deepest hungers. Help us to avoid feeding on breads that cannot satisfy.

Questions

Three sets of questions suitable for individual or group use. Choose one to best fit your purpose and time restraints: Faith Sharing Questions (by Fr. Eamon Tobin), Discussion Questions (by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau), and Scripture Study Questions (by Vince Contreras).

Faith Sharing Questions

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. 2. Isaiah asks: Why spend money on what will not satisfy? Obviously, we have to spend money on daily necessities, e.g., food and milk. In recent years, how, if any, have your spending habits changed?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul says nothing can separate us from the love of God. Yet in reality, we know things can leave people feeling separated from God’s love. What are some of those circumstances, and what can help us to continue feeling in the love of God when ‘the going gets tough’?

4. In the Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples, “Give them something to eat yourselves.” How can we obey this command of Jesus when it comes to feeding the hungers of others on a spiritual and physical level?

5. What do you hunger for at this stage in your life?6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Discussion Questions

1. Who provides the food in your family? Who prepares and offers it? Who blesses it and shares it? Do all the members of the household have something to contribute? How can each person, the very young and the very old, also be given an opportunity to give?

2. What are the many ways in which you have been able to respond to the Lord’s command that “you give them something to eat?”Make a list of the different kinds of ‘hunger’ that you see all around you: physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

3. Your family, your prayer group, your parish has to be involved in ‘giving bread to the hungry.’ The work of evangelization rests on the shoulders of each one of the Christian faithful. Are there spiritual hungers in your town or city that your group is not yet feeding?

© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Scripture Study Questions

1. Regarding the 1st Reading, how do we hear God’s invitation to “come to the waters”? For what do we hunger and thirst?

2. In the 2nd Reading, go through the list of things that St. Paul says cannot separate us from the love of Christ. How is this encouraging? Why does this list not include things like our own sin and unfaithfulness?

3. In the Gospel Reading, why does Jesus withdraw from the crowd? How does he react to the interruption?

4. Describe how the disciples might have felt in verse 15. In verses 16-17? In verses 18-21?

5. What new power do the disciples discover in Jesus? What is the lesson here?

6. How does the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew’s Gospel reflect eucharistic language (see Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-24)? How is it similar to the Old Testament event related in 2 Kings 4:42-44? How is it different?

7. How does their function of distributing the loaves and fishes point to the priesthood of the disciples? What does the bestowal of miraculous bread foreshadow?

8. What insight about Jesus will you remember from this story?

9. How have you seen God stretch your resources beyond what you could imagine?

© 2011 Vince Contreras. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, at your last supper, you created a lovely wayby which you can continue to feed our souls in a tangible manner. May we never lose our hunger for you in the Eucharist and may we be ready and willing to share our spiritual and material bread with others. Amen.

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Present-Day Voices

Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.

All are welcome to God's inclusive generosity

EXCERPT — Today’s readings invite us to reflect on God’s love for humanity. Both the first reading and the Gospel emphasize God’s care by using images of nourishment. As we hear these readings, we can find comfort in God’s love and use it as a way to model our interactions with one another... Isaiah can inspire us to strengthen, repair and restore our relationships with one another by inviting everyone to the table. Many people, especially people of color, women and people living in poverty, often feel overlooked and unable to advance. It is incumbent upon all of us, especially those in positions of power and privilege, to work consciously to include all people, especially those who are marginalized and disenfranchised. This is not only to right the wrongs of the past or to check a diversity box, although those are important goals. It is equally important, however, to acknowledge the ability of all people to contribute meaningfully to society, modeling our invitation to others in light of God’s actions.

AMERICA MAGAZINE - Jamie Waters


A relationship not a bargain

EXCERPT — Many people who want to market Christianity will try to make it into a bargain. “If you do this, God will do that. If you believe and pray, you will be wealthy or healthy. If you believe in Jesus you will not have to experience sickness or worry or pain.” But in Paul’s expression there is no sign of such bargaining. In fact, Paul admits painfully that we as believers in Christ undergo the same trials and tribulations as everyone else in the world. Believing in Christ does not insure us that we can avoid cancer, or that our marriage will last, or that we will be able to protect the people we love. Believing in Christ is not a guarantee to a charmed and easy life. What faith is, is the acceptance of a relationship. What faith is, is believing in a God who caresses us with blessings and who gently strokes us in our pain. Believing in Christ is admitting that there is a God who will never stop loving us.

BUILDING ON THE WORDFr. George Sigma


Sunday Eucharist is connect to our daily living

EXCERPTJesus challenges us to participate by offering our own resources, by turning to one another in genuine concern with the sure belief that we can make a difference, that we must help one another. Jesus does not choose to do it all alone. He has invited us to do what he does: give of ourselves, our love, our concern, our time, and our care. The parish assembly on Sundays provides us the kind of sign we need in order to become a giving community, a working community, where each member has something to offer, where everyone can receive without having to earn any credits. Sunday Eucharist becomes fulfilled only when the giving is carried out into the daily living of Monday through Saturday.

ECHOING GOD'S WORDRev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)


A cupboard that is always full

EXCERPT — Wouldn't it be great to have a cupboard that is always full? Today’s readings hold out that promise. There is indeed a cupboard that never goes empty. All you have to do is find it. We could call this cupboard “faith.” Once you find it, you can open its door to enjoy the food that truly satisfies. It is always there, just waiting for you... Jesus himself is our food and our drink! Both his word in scripture and his Real Presence in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist nourish and sustain us on our journey back to him. Come, listen, eat, that you might have life!

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)


The higher love

EXCERPT — Jesus, his heart moved by compassion, cured the sick. More tellingly, when his disciples wanted to dismiss the pressing crowd to search for food, he told his followers to offer their own food freely. Five loaves and two fish fed thousands, the fragments filling twelve bushels. Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch. Somewhere in the mystery of God is an unlimited bounty, whether it makes sense to us or not. This God we meet in Jesus just does not work according to our ways. It may not make for good business, it may even be bad law, but whatever else it is, it seems to be God’s way of loving.

SUNDAY WEB SITE - Father John Kavanaugh, SJ

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The Catena Aurea Commentary

by St. Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas uses:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to show/hide an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary of the Gospels.

Matthew 14:13-14

13. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

14. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

GLOSS. (ap. Anselm.) The Saviour having heard the death of His Baptist, retired into the desert; as it follows, which when Jesus had heard, he departed thence by ship into a desert place.

AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 45.) This the Evangelist relates to have been done immediately after the passion of John, therefore after this were those things done that were spoken of above, and moved Herod to say, This is John. For we must suppose those things to have been after his death which report carried to Herod, and which moved him to doubt who he could be concerning whom he heard such things; for himself had put John to death.

JEROME. He did not retire into the desert through fear of death, as some suppose, but in mercy to His enemies, that they might not add murder to murder; putting off His death till the day of His passion; on which day the lamb is to be slain as the sacrament, and the posts of them that believe to be sprinkled with the blood. Or, He retired to leave us an example to shun that rashness which leads men to surrender themselves voluntarily, because not all persevere with like constancy under torture with the which they offered themselves to it. For this reason He says in another place, When they shall persecute you in one city, flee ye to another. Whence the Evangelist says not ‘fled,’ but elegantly, departed thence, (or, ‘withdrew,’) shewing that He shunned rather than feared persecution. Or for another reason He might have withdrawn into a desert place on hearing of John’s death, namely, to prove the faith of the believers.

CHRYSOSTOM. Or; He did this because He desired to prolong the œconomy of His humanity, the time not being yet come for openly manifesting His deity; wherefore also He charged His disciples that they should tell no man that He was the Christ. But after His resurrection He would have this made manifest. Therefore although He knew of Himself what was done, yet before it was told Him He withdrew not, that He might shew the verity of His incarnation in all things; for He would that this should be assured not by sight only, but by His actions. And when He withdrew, He did not go into the city, but into the desert by ship that none might follow Him. Yet do not the multitudes leave Him even for this, but still follow after Him, not deterred by what had been done concerning John; whence it follows, And when the multitudes had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

JEROME. They followed on foot, not riding, or in carriages, but with the toil of their own legs, to shew the ardour of their mind.

CHRYSOSTOM. And they immediately reap the reward of this; for it follows, And he went out and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion upon them, and healed their sick. For though great was the affection of those who had left their cities, and sought Him carefully, yet the things that were done by Him surpassed the reward of any zeal. Therefore he assigns compassion as the cause of this healing. And it is great compassion to heal all, and not to require faith.

HILARY. Mystically; The Word of God, on the close of the Law, entered the ship, that is, the Church; and departed into the desert, that is, leaving to walk with Israel, He passes into breasts void of Divine knowledge. The multitude learning this, follows the Lord out of the city into the desert, going, that is, from the Synagogue to the Church. The Lord sees them, and has compassion upon them, and heals all sickness and infirmity, that is, He cleanses their obstructed minds, and unbelieving hearts for the understanding of the new preaching.

JEROME. It is to be observed moreover, that when the Lord came into the desert, great crowds followed Him; for before He went into the wilderness of the Gentiles, He was worshipped by only one people. They leave their cities, that is, their former conversation, and various dogmas. That Jesus went out, shews that the multitudes had the will to go, but not the strength to attain, therefore the Saviour departs out of His place and goes to meet them.

Matthew 14:15-21

15. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.

16. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

17. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.

18. He said, Bring them hither to me.

19. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

20. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

21. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

CHRYSOSTOM. It is a proof of the faith of these multitudes that they endured hunger in waiting for the Lord even till evening; to which purpose it follows, And when it was evening, his disciples came unto him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past. The Lord purposing to feed them waits to be asked, as always not stepping forward first to do miracles, but when called upon. None out of the crowd approached Him, both because they stood in great awe of Him, and because in their zeal of love they did not feel their hunger. But even the disciples do not come and say, Give them to eat; for the disciples were as yet in an imperfect condition; but they say, This is a desert place. So that what was proverbial among the Jews to express a miracle, as it is said, Can he spread a table in the wilderness? (Ps. 78:19.) this also He shews among his other works. For this cause also He leads them out into the desert, that the miracle might be clear of all suspicion, and that none might suppose that any thing was supplied towards the feast from any neighbouring town. But though the place be desert, yet is He there who feeds the world; and though the hour is, as they say, past, yet He who now commanded was not subjected to hours. And though the Lord had gone before His disciples in healing many sick, yet they were so imperfect that they could not judge what He would do concerning food for them, wherefore they add, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns, and buy themselves food. Observe the wisdom of the Master; He says not straightway to them, ‘I will give them to eat;’ for they would not easily have received this, but, Jesus said unto them, They need not depart, Give ye them to eat.

JEROME. Wherein He calls the Apostles to breaking of bread, that the greatness of the miracle might be more evident by their testimony that they had none.

AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 46.) It may perplex some how, if the Lord, according to the relation of John, asked Philip whence bread was to be found for them, that can be true which Matthew here relates, that the disciples first prayed the Lord to send the multitudes away, that they might buy food from the nearest towns. Suppose then that after these words the Lord looked upon the multitude and said what John relates, but Matthew and the others have omitted. And by such cases as this none ought to be perplexed, when one of the Evangelists relates what the rest have omitted.

CHRYSOSTOM. Yet not even by these words were the disciples set right, but speak yet to Him as to man; They answered unto Him, We have here but five loaves and two fishes. From this we learn the philosophy of the disciples, how far they despised food; they were twelve in number, yet they had but five loaves and two fishes; for things of the body were contemned by them, they were altogether possessed by spiritual things. But because the disciples were yet attracted to earth, the Lord begins to introduce the things that were of Himself; He saith unto them, Bring them hither to me. Wherefore does He not create out of nothing the bread to feed the multitude with? That He might put to silence the mouth of Marcion and Manichæus, who take away from God His creatures, (i. e. deny that God created the visible world.) and by His deeds might teach that all things that are seen are His works and creation, and that it is He that has given us the fruits of the earth, who said in the beginning, Let the earth bring forth the green herb; (Gen. 1:11.) for this is no less a deed than that. For of five loaves to make so many loaves, and fishes in like manner, is no less a thing than to bring fruits from the earth, reptiles and other living things from the waters; which shewed Him to be Lord both of land and sea. By the example of the disciples also we ought to be taught, that though we should have but little, we ought to give that to such as have need. For they when bid to bring their five loaves say not, Whence shall we satisfy our own hunger? but immediately obey; And He commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven blessed them, and brake. Why did He look to heaven and bless? For it should be believed concerning Him that He is from the Father, and that He is equal with the Father. His equality He shews when He does all things with power. That He is from the Father He shews by referring to Him whatsoever He does, and calling upon Him on all occasions. To prove these two things therefore, He works His miracles at times with power, at other times with prayer. It should be considered also that in lesser things He looks to heaven, but in greater He does all with power. When He forgave sins, raised the dead, stilled the sea, opened the secrets of the heart, opened the eyes of him that was born blind, which were works only of God, He is not seen to pray; but when He multiplies the loaves, a work less than any of these, He looks up to heaven, that you may learn that even in little things He has no power but from His Father. And at the same time He teaches us not to touch our food, until we have returned thanks to Him who gives it us. For this reason also He looks up to heaven, because His disciples had examples of many other miracles, but none of this.

JEROME. While the Lord breaks there is a sowing of food; for had the loaves been whole and not broken into fragments, and thus divided into a manifold harvest, they could not have fed so great a multitude. The multitude receives the food from the Lord through the Apostles; as it follows, And he gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

CHRYSOSTOM. In doing which He not only honoured them, but would that upon this miracle they should not be unbelieving, nor forget it when it was past, seeing their own hands had borne witness to it. Therefore also He suffers the multitudes first to feel the sense of hunger, and His disciples to come to Him, and to ask Him, and He took the loaves at their hands, that they might have many testimonies of that that was done, and many things to remind them of the miracle. From this that He gave them, nothing more than bread and fish, and that He set this equally before all, He taught them moderation, frugality, and that charity by which they should have all things in common. This He also taught them in the place, in making them sit down upon the grass; for He sought not to feed the body only, but to instruct the mind. But the bread and fish multiplied in the disciples’ hands; whence it follows, And they did all eat, and were filled. But the miracle ended not here; for He caused to abound not only whole loaves, but fragments also; to shew that the first loaves were not so much as what was left, and that they who were not present might learn what had been done, and that none might think that what had been done was a phantasy; And they took up fragments that were left, twelve baskets full.

JEROME. Each of the Apostles fills his basket of the fragments left by his Saviour, that these fragments might witness that they were true loaves that were multiplied.

CHRYSOSTOM. For this reason also He caused twelve baskets to remain over and above, that Judas might bear his basket. He took up the fragments, and gave them to the disciples and not to the multitudes, who were yet more imperfectly trained than the disciples.

JEROME. To the number of loaves, five, the number of the men that ate is apportioned, five thousand; And the number of them that had eaten was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

CHRYSOSTOM. This was to the very great credit of the people, that the women and the men stood up when these remnants still remained.

HILARY. The five loaves are not multiplied into more, but fragments succeed to fragments; the substance growing whether upon the tables, or in the hands that took them up, I know not.

RABANUS. When John is to describe this miracle, he first tells us that the passover is at hand; Matthew and Mark place it immediately after the execution of John. Hence we may gather, that he was beheaded when the paschal festival was near at hand, and that at the passover of the following year, the mystery of the Lord’s passion was accomplished.

JEROME. But all these things are full of mysteries; the Lord does these things not in the morning, nor at noon, but in the evening, when the Sun of righteousness was set.

REMIGIUS. By the evening the Lord’s death is denoted; and after He, the true Sun, was set on the altar of the cross, He filled the hungry. Or by evening is denoted the last age of this world, in which the Son of God came and refreshed the multitudes of those that believed on Him.

RABANUS. When the disciples ask the Lord to send away the multitudes that they might buy food in the towns, it signifies the pride of the Jews towards the multitudes of the Gentiles, whom they judged rather fit to seek for themselves food in the assemblies of the Pharisees than to use the pasture of the Divine books.

HILARY. But the Lord answered, They have no need to go, shewing that those whom He heals have no need of the food of mercenary doctrine, and have no necessity to return to Judæa to buy food; and He commands the Apostles that they give them food. Did He not know then that there was nothing to give them? But there was a complete series of types to be set forth; for as yet it was not given the Apostles to make and minister the heavenly bread, the food of eternal life; and their answer thus belongs to the chain of spiritual interpretation; they were as yet confined to the five loaves, that is, the five books of the Law, and the two fishes, that is, the preaching of the Prophets and of John.

RABANUS. Or, by the two fishes we may understand the Prophets, and the Psalms, for the whole of the Old Testament was comprehended in these three, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

HILARY. These therefore the Apostles first set forth, because they were yet in these things; and from these things the preaching of the Gospel grows to its more abundant strength and virtue. Then the people is commanded to sit down upon the grass, as no longer lying upon the ground, but resting upon the Law, each one reposing upon the fruit of his own works as upon the grass of the earth.

JEROME. Or, they are bid to lie down on the grass, and that, according to another Evangelist, by fifties and by hundreds, that after they have trampled upon their flesh, and have subjugated the pleasures of the world as dried grass under them, then by the presencea of the number fifty, they ascend to the eminent perfection of a hundred. He looks up to heaven to teach us that our eyes are to be directed thither. The Law with the Prophets is broken, and in the midst of them are brought forward mysteries., that whereas they partook not of it whole, when broken into pieces it may be food for the multitude of the Gentiles.

HILARY. Then the loaves are given to the Apostles, because through them the gifts of divine grace were to be rendered. And the number of them that did eat is found to be the same as that of those who should believe; for we find in the book of Acts that out of the vast number of the people of Israel, five thousand men believed.

JEROME. There partook five thousand who had reached maturity; for women and children, the weaker sex, and the tender age, were unworthy of number; thus in the book of Numbers, slaves, women, children, and an undistinguished crowd, are passed over unnumbered.

RABANUS. The multitude being hungry, He creates no new viands, but having taken what the disciples had, He gave thanks. In like manner when He came in the flesh, He preached no other things than what had been foretold, but shewed that the writings of the Law and the Prophets were big with mysteries. That which, the multitude leave is taken up by the disciples, because the more secret mysteries which cannot be comprehended by the uninstructed, are not to be treated with neglect, but are to be diligently sought out by the twelve Apostles (who are represented by the twelve baskets) and their successors. For by baskets servile offices are performed, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong. The five thousand for the five senses of the body are they who in a secular condition know how to use rightly things without.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000
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Catechism Excerpts

"By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality." From the Homiletic Directory

Give us this day our daily bread

2828 "Give us": The trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. "He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."113 He gives to all the living "their food in due season."114 Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.

2829 "Give us" also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this "us" also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.

2830 "Our bread": The Father who gives us life cannot not but give us the nourishment life requires - all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father's providence.115 He is not inviting us to idleness,116 but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God:

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.117

2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. The drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord's Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.118

2832 As leaven in the dough, the newness of the kingdom should make the earth "rise" by the Spirit of Christ.119 This must be shown by the establishment of justice in personal and social, economic and international relations, without ever forgetting that there are no just structures without people who want to be just.

2833 "Our" bread is the "one" loaf for the "many." In the Beatitudes "poverty" is the virtue of sharing: it calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others.120

2834 "Pray and work."121 "Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you."122 Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father; it is good to ask him for it and to thank him, as Christian families do when saying grace at meals.

2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: "Man does not live by bread alone, but . . . by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,"123 that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort "to proclaim the good news to the poor." There is a famine on earth, "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD."124 For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: The Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.125

2836 "This day" is also an expression of trust taught us by the Lord,126 which we would never have presumed to invent. Since it refers above all to his Word and to the Body of his Son, this "today" is not only that of our mortal time, but also the "today" of God.

If you receive the bread each day, each day is today for you. If Christ is yours today, he rises for you every day. How can this be? "You are my Son, today I have begotten you." Therefore, "today" is when Christ rises.127

2837 "Daily" (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of "this day,"128 to confirm us in trust "without reservation." Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence.129 Taken literally (epi-ousios: "super-essential"), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the "medicine of immortality," without which we have no life within us.130 Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: "this day" is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. The power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive. . . . This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.131The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.132

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Miracle of loaves prefigures the Eucharist

1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.158 The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus' glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father's kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.159

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The fruits of Holy Communion

1391 Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. Indeed, the Lord said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."226 Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me."227

On the feasts of the Lord, when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given, as when the angel said to Mary Magdalene, "Christ is risen!" Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ.228

1392 What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh "given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,"229 preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.

1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is "given up for us," and the blood we drink "shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins." For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:

For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord's death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.230

1394 As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.231 By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:

Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world. . . . Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.232

1395 By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins - that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.

1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body - the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.233 The Eucharist fulfills this call: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:"234

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond "Amen" ("yes, it is true!") and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, "the Body of Christ" and respond "Amen." Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.235

1397 The Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren:

You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,. . . . You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. . . . God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.236

1398 The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery St. Augustine exclaims, "O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!"237 The more painful the experience of the divisions in the Church which break the common participation in the table of the Lord, the more urgent are our prayers to the Lord that the time of complete unity among all who believe in him may return.

1399 The Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church celebrate the Eucharist with great love. "These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all - by apostolic succession - the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy." A certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, "given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged."238

1400 Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, "have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders."239 It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, "when they commemorate the Lord's death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory."240

1401 When, in the Ordinary's judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will, provided they give evidence of holding the Catholic faith regarding these sacraments and possess the required dispositions.241

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