“Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” ~Ephesians 4
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
On this 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time we consider the parallels between Elisha the prophet feeding people from only twenty barley loaves in the second book of Kings, and of Jesus in the Gospel of John, who makes a vastly larger provision from an even smaller quantity of food; just five barley loaves and two fish. From that little amount, Jesus made an abundance of food that fed 5000 men, not even counting the women and children. Now there were 12 large wicker baskets left over filled with uneaten fish and bread. Imagine the sheer quantity of food this would be! If you have five thousand men, not counting women and their children, then this could easily be about triple the number offered in the gospel. And yet we learn that everyone ate their fill. No one was left hungry!
In parallel I am thinking of our annual St Rita parish Fiesta, where we feed an average of 2 to 3 thousand people from assorted food trucks and many volunteers. Huge amounts of food have to be brought in. I can't imagine us trying to feed triple those numbers!
But back in Jesus’ time, there was obviously no place to purchase such a huge quantity of fish and bread at one time. The miracle described in today's Gospel account obviously goes far beyond human expectation. In the book of Exodus, God provided manna, quail and water from the rock to sustain the Hebrew people in the barren desert. Now Jesus, the Bread of Life, the Son of God, provides the food himself. He feeds with ordinary food but will later reveal to his Apostles at the Last Supper that He IS the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation.
What makes these scriptural passages so interesting is this: God prefers and deliberately calls us to be participants in a divine, unfolding plan. Just as Elisha the prophet took the offering of a few barley loaves from an individual to provide an abundant gift, now Jesus does the same, but in a much grander scale. Jesus becomes for us the very Bread of Life, and begins by taking the meager offering we give to God of ourselves as well as the bread and wine we place on the altar, so that we can enter into the very heart of God and the Eucharistic mystery.
We MUST eat of Jesus, the very Bread of Life so that we can be strengthened in our resolve to be people of self-sacrifice and to have the strength and resolve to love in a world that needs "God-drops" of Christian service, and diligence in providing loving care for our children. We let God use the talents and gifts we have so that others may find hope and real nourishment.
The month of August is on our doorsteps! Our college students are already busy finishing up plans and preparations before departing for the start of the academic season. We wish them well.
We also wish Joe Kwiatkowski, our Music Director, well as he embarks on an exciting new opportunity to be the Campus Minister and Director of Liturgical Music at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. As Joe has said, “God sends us signs that encourage us to follow a path” and we should all listen to God’s call. This is Joe’s last weekend with us. We are grateful to Joe for his short stay here at St. Rita and wish him well as he continues on his musical journey.
May God Bless You this Week!