Sunday Readings Reflections

SR-2018-09-25

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – September 23, 2018


ORDINARY TIME:
Liturgical Color – Green (Stands for Growth, hope, life.)
Purpose –
To recall the life of Christ, reminded that God is always there to help us live as Christians.

(Cycle B) – Mark’s Gospel is used primarily during the Sunday Mass, Liturgy of the Word’s Gospel Reading.
WHY BIBLE STUDY? – “I very much desire to know God more deeply and to love Him more ardently (enthusiastically and passionately), for I have understood that the greater knowledge of Him, the stronger the love of Him.” (St. Faustina’s Diary #974)

This Sunday’s Theme: God Supports Us In Our Christian Service.

In today’s Reading 1, a passage from the Book of Wisdom, is a prophecy of the Lord’s Passion. We hear His enemies complain that He, “the Just One”, has challenged their authority and reproached them for breaking the law of Moses, for betraying their training as leaders and teachers. Today’s Gospel and Psalm give us the flip side of Reading 1. In both, we hear of Jesus’ sufferings from His point of view. Though His enemies surround Him, He offers Himself freely in sacrifice, trusting that God will sustain Him. Jesus teaches the Twelve—the chosen leaders of His Church—that they must lead by imitating His example of love and self-sacrifice. They must be “servants of all,” especially the weak and the helpless —symbolized by the child He embraces and places in their midst. This is a lesson for us, too. We must have the mind of Christ, who humbled Himself to come among us. We must freely offer ourselves, making everything we do (especially in Christian Service) a sacrifice in praise of His Name. As James says in today’s Reading 2, we must seek wisdom from above, desiring humility, not glory, and in all things be gentle and we shall receive God’s mercy.


Reading 1 – Wisdom 2:12,17-20     The Just One is put to the test.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 54:3-6, 8     A prayer for God’s protection.

Reading 2 – James 3:16—4:3     James teaches about the Wisdom from above.

Gospel – Mark 9:30-37     Jesus teaches His disciples that the greatest are those who serve all.


This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal, Loyola Press, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.

 NOTE: The Lectionary Bible Readings for this Sunday – Readings 1 & 2, Responsorial Psalm, and the Gospel, all appear in purple in the following. Footnotes are included in these passages and the contents of all the footnotes appear at the end of this document. However, move the cursor over the Footnote Number in the passage and then the contents for this Footnote appears directly in a separate panel.


Reading 1     Wisdom 2:12,17-20                  (The Just Are Persecuted)

Context – The Wisdom of Solomon (aka. Wisdom) is one of seven Wisdom Books of the Bible (including: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs (Song of Solomon), Ecclesiastes, and Sirach).  It was written a century or two before Christ. Its main lesson is God rewarding those who are faithful to His law. “Wisdom” here means not merely the practical ability to succeed well in life, or even the art of behaving ethically, but spiritual vision, understanding of God and His activity in our lives and history. To strengthen the faith of his co-religionists, to console them in their afflictions, to raise their hearts above the sordidness and immorality by which they were surrounded – this was the main purpose of the writer of the Book of Wisdom. But he also had another purpose in view. Many Jews, anxious to gain the good will of the Egyptians, had faltered in their allegiance to Yahweh and gone over to the camp of the enemy. To these unfortunates the sacred writer addresses himself time and again, warning them of the impending judgment of God and conjuring them to return to the path of true Wisdom which alone leads to perfect happiness. The Christian finds in it the highest religious and moral lessons – lessons which are of paramount importance today, just as they were over two thousand years ago.
Today’s Reading – In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about His upcoming passion and death. Reading 1 is chosen because it speaks of the rejection and mistreatment of God’s servants. But it also states that God will take care of these servants – He will support them in their Christian Service.
The people in this passage have an intense dislike for the “Just One”. His way of life is a condemnation of their own. His virtue shows their lack of virtue. Like the enemies of Jesus, they plan and plot to silence and actually kill the “Virtuous One”. Their minds and hearts are so distorted and twisted that they see nothing wrong in their behavior.

The wicked say: Let us beset the Just One, because He is obnoxious to us; He sets Himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether His words be true; let us find out what will happen to Him. For if the Just One be the Son of God, God will defend Him
and deliver Him from the hand of His foes. With revilement and torture let us put the Just One to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience.
Let us condemn Him to a shameful death; for according to His own words, God will take care of Him.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         The testing of the “Just One” by the people, in Reading 1, reminds us of the testing and tempting that the devil will do to Jesus in the desert after Jesus is baptized. The devil was active in the Old Testament times as it is active in our times. Our response cannot be “the devil made me do it” but “I let the devil make me do it”. The devil can, if we let it, prevent us from being the best person we can be (be mindful of our temper, inappropriate thoughts/desires, self-centeredness, revengefulness, …)


 Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 54:3-6, 8                             (God Our Helper)

Today’s Psalm – This Psalm is a lament by a just person whose life is in danger.  It harmonizes well with Reading 1 and the Gospel about a just person’s life in danger but he is assured that God will support him.

R. – The Lord upholds my life.
O God, by Your Name save me, and by Your might defend my cause. O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth.
R. The Lord upholds my life.
For the haughty men have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes.
R. The Lord upholds my life.
Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life. Freely will I offer You sacrifice; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for its goodness.
R. The Lord upholds my life.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           When God’s people experience opposition from others who seek to thwart His will, we can count on His eventual deliverance. It may not come this side of the grave, but God will punish evildoers and reward those who trust and obey Him.  (Dr. Charles Swindoll)


Reading 2     James 3:16—4:3                     (Avoiding Conflicts)

Context – The Letter of James is a sermon on how Christians ought to live. It is a pure specimen on the ethical teaching found in the Sermon On The Mount. St. James is called “the younger” or “the less” to distinguish him from James the brother of John. On account of his close kinship with Jesus he is known as the “brother of the Lord.” St. James tells the people that “faith without works is dead” but St. Paul says “salvation by faith alone”. Why the difference? It’s the different in their definitions of “faith”. James believes that “faith” is a noun = only knowledge of God’s Law, awareness of sound theology. Paul believes that “faith” is a verb = obedient belief (includes doing God’s work which includes knowledge of God). So, “faith” from John equates to “belief” from Paul and “works” from James equates to “obedience” from Paul. Thus, these ties bring the two Saints together in agreement on salvation.
Today’s Reading –   James is addressing disharmony within the Christian community. The causes for this are internal – when our sinful inner cravings go unchecked and become the basis of our decision making, they can wreck the life of the community. Or we can say that James contrasts heavenly and earthly wisdom. Wisdom from above (Christian Wisdom) is peaceable, docile and rich in compassion. It produces a rich harvest of right relationships with others.  In contrast, earthly driven decision making is self-centered, e.g., when one doesn’t get his/her way, he/she can become disruptive and divisive.

Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the Wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.[i] And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           Evil passions from within us are the true sources of what is wrong in society (e.g. polarization). Today we live in a very passionate time. People wear their angers and passions overtly and loudly. The trouble is that too often those angers are misdirected and aimed at the wrong people. We look for someone to blame and usually that blame is heaped heavily on others who are different from us. It is the old “Us vs Them” rush to judgment, generally oversimplified, which destroys and deceives any who wish to engage the wisdom of engaging the complexities of truthfulness. Wisdom, as James writes, is (among other things) “peaceable, gentle, … full of mercy, and good fruits.” … Edifying behavior towards all (including those different from us) is absolutely necessary for faithful discipleship. (The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild)


Gospel     Mark 9:30-37                               (Service of Others)

Context – St. Mark’s Gospel was the first written of the Gospels contained in the New Testament. The date of writing was prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. St. Peter was Mark’s primary source of information about the life of Jesus. Mark is primarily known by his Roman name “Mark” but is sometimes called by his Jewish name “John” in other New Testament Writings. He was a cousin to Barnabas and an associate of St. Paul. Recognizing Jesus as the divine Son of God is the goal of this gospel. And it was written to encourage Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith. It begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Today’s Reading – This is Mark’s third lesson on discipleship. The true disciple is one who seeks to do Christian Service rather than be served. He illustrates His lesson by standing a child in their midst. (In Aramaic, the same word is used for a child and servant.) Jesus then tells His disciples: “If you want to be truly great, you must learn to be humble and meek like this little child.”  The best and purest kind of service is that rendered to the most insignificant members of society, symbolized here by a child. Jesus is also saying that false ambition is the desire to rule over others—which is very damaging to the unity of a community. True ambition, on the other hand, is the desire to serve others—which helps build a strong community. Here, Jesus does not condemn ambition but rather redefines it.

Jesus and His disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but He did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men[ii] and they will kill Him, and three days after His death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question Him.

They came to Capernaum[iii] and, once inside the house[iv], He began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then He sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”[v] Taking a child[vi], He placed it in their midst, and putting His arms around it, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in My name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but the One who sent Me.”[vii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 912 – The faithful should “distinguish carefully between the rights and the duties which they have as belonging to the Church (i.e. Christian Wisdom) and those which fall to them as members of the human society (i.e. Earthly Wisdom). They will strive to unite the two harmoniously, remembering that in every temporal affair they are to be guided by a Christian conscience, since no human activity, even of the temporal order, can be withdrawn from God’s dominion.”



[i]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
 “Wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” = In terms that emphasize the contrast with earthly wisdom (i.e. internal earthly driven decision making), Saint James gives a beautiful sketch of Christian Wisdom which reminds one of the Beatitudes.
[ii]   Gospel Footnotes:
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men”
= Jesus revealed to them for the first time that someone would hand Him over to His enemies. Judas was the one who brought this to pass.
[iii]  “Capernaum” = A fishing village located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee that was Jesus’ base of operations.
[iv]  “once inside the house” = What house is not clear. Matthew 4:13 notes that Jesus established a residence in Capernaum and Mark 1:29 tells us that Peter had a home there where his mother-in-law was. Perhaps they were one and the same place.
[v]  “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” = “Let vanity be unknown among you. Let simplicity and harmony and a guileless attitude weld the community together. Let each remind himself that he is not only subordinate to the brother at his side, but to all. If he knows this, he will truly be a disciple of Christ” [Saint Gregory of Nyssa (ca. A.D. 380), On The Christian Mode of Life]. Jesus taught His disciples lessons dealing with the dangers that threatened their effectiveness as His disciples. These dangers were the desire for greatness, the folly of a sectarian attitude, and failure in self-discipline.
[vi]  “Taking a child” = To receive the child is to do a good act for a humble and meek person, without hope of earthly reward. Matthew 25:40 – “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me”.
[vii]  “Whoever receives one child such as this in My name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but the One who sent Me.” = The idea behind this saying is that whoever receives someone’s emissary (i.e. the child) receives the person (i.e. Jesus) himself. So, whoever receives a child receives Jesus, and whoever receives Jesus receives the Father who sent Jesus.


 

SR-2018-09-16

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – September 16, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: Taking Up Our Cross.

Reading 1 speaks about a faithful Servant who suffers for His fidelity to God.  In the Gospel, Peter makes an important profession of faith about Jesus.  Then, Jesus teaches His second lesson on the nature of true discipleship, namely, a willingness to carry one’s cross.  In Reading 2, James states that authentic faith must express itself in good works.

With the crisis in our Church today, we have a heavy cross to bear for a very long time as the news is only going to get worse (we are “Suffering Servants”). Today’s Responsorial Psalm is a good resource to help ensure that our good works in support of our Church that we have performed in the past, we will continue to perform in the future – “I fell into distress and sorrow, and I called upon the name of the LORD, “O LORD, save my life!”.

Plus, we must also continue to think of the victims of the abuse who have a tremendous cross to carry. We could pray a version of The Prayer of St, Francis of Assisi for them – “Lord, where there is hatred, sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.” Amen.


Reading 1 – Isaiah 50:5-9a     The Suffering Servant of God is assured of God’s help.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 116:1-9     A prayer of praise to God for His saving grace of our salvation.

Reading 2 – James 2:14-18     James teaches that faith must be demonstrated in one’s works.

Gospel – Mark 8:27-35     Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ, and Jesus teaches that those who would follow Him must take up his or her cross.<


Reading 1     Isaiah 50:5-9a              (The Lord Our Help)

Context – The keynote of the Book of Isaiah is salvation (Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves”). He was the prophet of the southern kingdom, Judah, and lived at the time (ie. 742 – 687 BC) when the northern kingdom, Israel, whose capital was Jerusalem, was destroyed. At this time all that was left of the old kingdom of David was Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. He prophesized for 64 years. He prophesized doom for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, he prophesized God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and this is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ. After the Psalms, Isaiah is the Old Testament book most quoted in the New Testament.
Today’s Reading – In Chapters 40 to 55 of Isaiah, there are four passages known as the four Suffering Servant Songs. Today’s reading contains the third song of the Suffering Servant. Some modern scholars have proposed that this Servant in Isaiah might represent the nation of Israel or the prophets; others identify the Servant with an individual, like the prophet Isaiah himself, or the future Messiah (i.e. Jesus – which is our interpretation and there is reference to this in today’s Gospel). 
The Servant’s message in today’s reading, evidently meets with opposition and results in His persecution. But He absorbs all the physical and mental abuse directed at Him without retaliating. The insults don’t really touch Him, because He is confident that God will help and vindicate Him. This ties in with Jesus’ prediction of His passion in today’s Gospel. Jesus, too, is confident that God will vindicate Him by raising Him from the dead. The New Testament sees Jesus as the Suffering Servant par excellence.

The Lord GOD opens my (i.e. Jesus’) ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.[i] I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting[ii].

The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint[iii],
knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 116:1-9                                 (Saved by God)

Today’s Psalm – This is a thanksgiving prayer of one who has recovered from a serious illness. It reflects the feelings of both the Suffering Servant and Jesus in today’s first and third readings. This psalm conveys a sense of need as well as a deep trust in the Lord’s ability to take care of the needs of the people.

R. – I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living[iv].
I love the LORD because He has heard my voice in supplication, because He has inclined His ear to me the day I called.
R. – I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
The cords of death
[v] encompassed me; the snares of the netherworld seized upon me; I fell into distress and sorrow, and I called upon the name of the LORD, “O LORD, save my life!”
R. – I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
Gracious is the LORD and just; yes, our God is merciful. The LORD keeps the little ones
[vi]; I was brought low, and He saved me.
R. – I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.
For He has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
[vii]
R. – I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Reading 2     James 2:14-18              (Faith and Good Works)

Context – The Letter of James is a sermon on how Christians ought to live. It is a pure specimen on the ethical teaching found in the Sermon On The Mount. St. James is called “the younger” or “the less” to distinguish him from James the brother of John. On account of his close kinship with Jesus he is known as the “brother of the Lord.” St. James tells the people that “faith without works is dead” but St. Paul says “salvation by faith alone”. Why the difference? It’s the different in their definitions of “faith”. James believes that “faith” is a noun = only knowledge of God’s Law, awareness of sound theology. Paul believes that “faith” is a verb = obedient belief (includes doing God’s work which includes knowledge of God). So, “faith” from John equates to “belief” from Paul and “works” from James equates to “obedience” from Paul. Thus, these ties bring the two Saints together in agreement on salvation.
Today’s Reading –   James responds to a misunderstanding in the early church about the true nature of faith. It seems some within the community think that faith only means correct belief as articulated in orthodox doctrine. James insists that authentic faith must express itself in good works. Action and right conduct are essential elements of faith.  Faith that does not express itself in good works is a false or dead faith. James gives a concrete example of how faith must lead to care for a needy brother or sister.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.               The theology of righteousness coming from works, only, was condemned by the Church at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431. One cannot “earn” or “work” their way into heaven. The gift of eternal life with the Father is freely given to all who will avail themselves of it. However, one must live the life of Christ (i.e. be obedient to Christ) if they expect to enter heaven. The corporal works of mercy are done, not because we are obliged to do them, but because we love Jesus so much that we want to do them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 


Gospel     Mark 8:27-35                                 (Glorying in Christ’s Cross)

Context – St. Mark’s Gospel was the first written of the Gospels contained in the New Testament. The date of writing was prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. St. Peter was Mark’s primary source of information about the life of Jesus. Mark is primarily known by his Roman name “Mark” but is sometimes called by his Jewish name “John” in other New Testament Writings. He was a cousin to Barnabas and an associate of St. Paul. Recognizing Jesus as the divine Son of God is the goal of this gospel. And it was written to encourage Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith. It begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Today’s Reading – After having been consistently rejected and misunderstood despite all He has said and done, Jesus starts to proclaim the necessity of the suffering of the Son of Man – Suffering Servant. Today’s passage has two parts. The first deals with Peter’s profession of faith. The second involves Jesus’ teaching on the true nature of His messiah-ship—how it will involve suffering and how the cross will also be the lot of those who will follow Him.
In the first part, Jesus seeks to find out how His actions and words are being understood by the people.  Peter tells Him that many of the people think that He is a prophet raised from the dead. Then Jesus asks, “And who do you, my inner circle, say I am?” Peter, serving as spokesperson for his brothers, answers: “You are the Christ.” This means that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. Even though Peter answers correctly, his reaction to Jesus’ reference to a suffering Messiah clearly shows how much he needs to grow in his understanding of Jesus’ messiahship.  Peter is repulsed at the very idea of a wounded and suffering Messiah, as well as a discipleship that will involve carrying one’s cross. It will take a lot of time and the action of the Holy Spirit for Peter and his friends to embrace the idea of a wounded and suffering Messiah and the belief that disciples will also suffer for being followers of Jesus.

Jesus and His disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi[viii]. Along the way He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” [ix] And He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” [x] Peter said to Him in reply, “You are the Christ.” [xi] Then He warned them not to tell anyone about Him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man[xii] must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke (express disapproval) Him.[xiii] At this He turned around and, looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” [xiv]

He summoned the crowd with His disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the gospel will save it.”[xv]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          “How hard and painful does this appear! The Lord has required that ‘whoever will come after Him must deny themselves and carry their crosses.’ But what He commands is neither hard nor painful when He Himself helps us in such a way so that the very thing He requires may be accomplished. … For whatever seems hard in what is enjoined, love makes easy” (Saint Augustine)

Catechism 440 – Jesus accepted Peter’s profession of faith, which acknowledged Him to be the Messiah, by announcing the imminent Passion of the Son of Man. He unveiled the authentic content of His messianic kingship both in the transcendent identity of the Son of Man “who came down from heaven”, and in His redemptive mission as the Suffering Servant: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Hence the true meaning of His kingship is revealed only when He is raised high on the cross. Only after His Resurrection will Peter be able to proclaim Jesus’ messianic kingship to the People of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”


TAKE UP THY CROSS

1. “Take up thy Cross,” the Savior said, “if thou wouldst my disciple be; deny thyself, the world forsake, and humbly follow after Me.”

2. Take up thy cross, let not its weight fill thy weak spirit with alarm; His strength shall bear thy spirit up, and brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.

3. Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame, nor let thy foolish pride rebel; thy Lord for thee the cross endured,
to save thy soul from death and hell.

4. Take up thy cross and follow Christ, nor think till death to lay it down; for only those who bear the cross
may hope to wear the glorious crown.
 (Charles W. Everest)



[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
“The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” = A true servant must first be a disciple, prayerfully receiving God’s word, before they can presume to teach others.
[ii]  “spitting” = The greatest indignity. Yet this was the treatment of our Savior (like today, when we use His name in vain). Like the prophets of the Old Testament before Jesus, He too, is ignored and even maltreated.
[iii]  “I have set my face like flint” = A phrase frequent in prophetic preaching (Ezekiel 3:8-9; Luke 9:51). It means that the Messiah would be firm and resolute amidst all contempt and scorn which He would meet; that He had made up His mind to endure it, and would not shrink from any kind or degree of suffering which would be necessary to accomplish the great work in which He was engaged.
[iv]   Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“in the land of the living” = During the psalmist’s lifetime.
[v]  “The chords of death” = The Psalmist’s is explaining that he is ill.
[vi]  “little ones” = The humble, meek, helpless.
[vii]  “I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” = The Psalmist has now recovered from his illness
[viii]   Gospel Footnotes:
Caesarea Philippi = A pagan city located at the headwaters of the eastern branch of the Jordan River.
[ix]   “Who do people say that I am? They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” = The people have at least recognized that Jesus has been sent by God, because all those mentioned by them were all sent by God.
[x]   “And He asked them, But who do you say that I am?” = In contrast to “people” these guys are the inner circle who received detailed explanations of the parables and to whom has been entrusted the secret of God’s kingdom.
[xi]  “You are the Christ (Messiah)” = The Suffering Servant as described in our Reading 1.
[xii]   “Son of Man” = Human being.
[xiii]   “Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke (express disapproval) Him.” = Peter knew that Old Testament Scripture predicted that the Messiah would come to deliver Israel from Gentile domination, set up His earthly kingdom, and rule the entire world from Jerusalem (Zech. 14). But he failed to recognize that Isaiah had also predicted that the Messiah would suffer and die (Isa. 53).
[xiv]  “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  = Jesus uses the same words He used to address the devil in the desert (Matthew 4:10). Like the devil, Peter is “tempting” Jesus. He is not calling or naming Peter “Satan,” but telling him that like Satan, he is tempting Him. “Get behind me” is telling Peter to be a follower; he is not yet equipped to lead, he still has much to learn.
[xv]   “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the gospel will save it.” = In this verse, “life” means “soul” – You can’t save your soul without Godly faith and good works. Also, “loses his soul for My sake and that of the gospel” means – Using your Free Will in obedience to God. Therefore, using your Free Will to do what you ought to do (i.e. faith and good works) makes you justified in God’s sight. We must seek and savor the things that are God’s and not the things of this earth (Colossians 3:1-2).


 

SR-2018-09-09

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – September 9, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: The Healing Activity of Our Lord.

Christ who carried out His Father’s will for our salvation, even unto the death on the cross, deserves our unending gratitude. Eternity will not be long enough for us to thank and praise Him. Let us first remember those of God’s Chosen People, the Jews, who preserved the knowledge of God and trust in His promises thru analogies of God’s saving grace via healings to body and soul. Secondly, we must never forget the Apostles and disciples of Christ who devoted and gave their lives in order to bring the Christian faith to us via the stories of Jesus’ teachings and, body and soul healings. The best way to show appreciation of a gift is to use it fully and gratefully. Let us make full use of the divine gift of salvation by living according to its teaching all the days of our lives. (CatholicCulture.org)


Reading 1 – Isaiah 35:4-7a     Isaiah prophesies about God’s vindication.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 146:7-10     A song of praise to God.

Reading 2 – James 2:1-5     James teaches that there is to be no partiality within the Christian community.

Gospel – Mark 7:31-37     Jesus restores a man’s hearing and speech.


Reading 1     Isaiah 35:4-7a              (The Messiah’s Coming)

The keynote of the Book of Isaiah is salvation (Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah saves”). He was the prophet of the southern kingdom, Judah, and lived at the time (ie. 742 – 687 BC) when the northern kingdom, Israel, whose capital was Jerusalem, was destroyed. At this time all that was left of the old kingdom of David was Judah, which included the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites. He prophesized for 64 years. He prophesized doom for a sinful Judah and Israel and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. Then, he prophesized God’s restoration of the nation of Israel, including Judah, and this is interpreted by Christians as prefiguring the coming of Christ. After the Psalms, Isaiah is the Old Testament book most quoted in the New Testament.
Today’s Reading – The prophet Isaiah is sent to speak good news to a people in exile who are broken and filled with fear. The prophet tells them that their bad times are coming to an end. God is coming to heal their spiritual and physical maladies, and to heal their land.

Thus says the LORD: Say to those whose hearts are frightened[i]: Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God, He comes with vindication
(liberation); with divine recompense (restoration)
He comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.
[ii] Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.[iii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.       the eyes of the blind be opened” this ties into the Gospel reading where Jesus cures the blind man. 


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 146:7-10                     (The Lord’s Saving Deeds)

Today’s Psalm – This is a Psalm of praise to a God who brings redemption and liberation to those who are oppressed.

R. – Praise the Lord, my soul!
The God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets captives free.
R. – Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind
[iv]; the LORD raises up those who were bowed down. The LORD loves the just; the LORD protects strangers.
R. – Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless
(orphans) and the widow the LORD sustains[v], but the way of the wicked He thwarts. The LORD shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations.
Alleluia.
R. – Praise the Lord, my soul!


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.       The LORD gives sight to the blind” – this ties into Reading 1 and the Gospel.


Reading 2     James 2:1-5                    (No Favoritism with God)

Context – The Letter of James is a sermon on how Christians ought to live. It is a pure specimen on the ethical teaching found in the Sermon On The Mount. St. James is called “the younger” or “the less” to distinguish him from James the brother of John. On account of his close kinship with Jesus he is known as the “brother of the Lord.” It is sometimes asserted that James is in conflict with Paul on the question of faith and works. James states “faith without works is dead.”  Paul states “the righteous shall live by faith”. However the difference between the two is one of emphasis and vocabulary. For Paul faith = obedient belief. For James faith = works and belief. So, “obedience” and “works” tie the two Apostles together in agreement.
Today’s Reading – Social discrimination is strongly and bluntly condemned: “Brothers and sisters, show no partiality.” The poorly dressed should not be treated any differently from those with the trappings of wealth.  In fact, God would have true disciples develop a special affection or preferential option for the poor, the downcast, the suffering, and all who are treated as unimportant in our world. True disciples will go out of their way to welcome and include those whom our society is wont to exclude. Also, in today’s polarized world, we should not discriminate because of one’s gender, race, nor ideology. The more humble and understanding people are, the more honor they deserve. We are all children of God. “One must first know and “live in Jesus” in order to recognize Him in others.” (St. Faustina Diary “503)

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality (prejudice) as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly[vi], and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please, ” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ” have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world[vii] to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him?


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     Mark 7:31-37                                 (Cure of a Deaf-Mute)

Context – St. Mark’s Gospel was the first written of the Gospels contained in the New Testament. The date of writing was prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. St. Peter was Mark’s primary source of information about the life of Jesus. Mark is primarily known by his Roman name “Mark” but is sometimes called by his Jewish name “John” in other New Testament Writings. He was a cousin to Barnabas and an associate of St. Paul. Recognizing Jesus as the divine Son of God is the goal of this gospel. And it was written to encourage Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith. It begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Today’s Reading – The Gospel is the fulfillment of Reading 1 that speaks about God healing the deaf and the mute.  In this story, Jesus is showing His concern and hospitality for suffering person who is most likely excluded from the community. He offers healing, acceptance, and wholeness to a man with two disabilities.  Notice that Jesus physically touches the man. The deaf and mute man is, in a way, symbolic of the Gentile people. Until that time, they are unable to hear God’s message and unable to speak it. The command not to tell anyone is called the “messianic secret.”  Because most of the people have a wrong understanding of the nature of the Messiah (they expect Him to be a military person, a new David), Jesus does not want His messiahship to be broadcast until He has time to explain its true nature, namely, that of a suffering servant. Jesus will conquer, not with military might, but by suffering on the cross.

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis[viii]. And people brought to Him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him[ix]. He took him off by Himself away from the crowd. He put His finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue;[x] then He looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone.[xi] But the more He ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”[xii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           “He looked up to heaven and groaned” – 1. We must not suppose that our Savior here groaned on account of any difficulty he experienced in working this miracle, but only from commiseration for the man, whom he was about to heal; as likewise to show, how very difficult is the cure of those who are spiritually deaf and mute by sin. He was affected in a similar manner when he raised Lazarus to life (“Jesus wept.” – John 11:35), to show with what difficulty a man, dead and buried in sin by evil habits, can arise from that miserable state. (St. Carthage)
2. Romans 8:26 – “In the same way the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words.”
3. What is groaning? It is a type of strong prayer. In the Greek the word groaning can be traced back to a word meaning to give birth, or travail. (eBible.com). “Groanings” or “groans” expresses feelings of compassion for our weak condition. The Holy Spirit requests the Father’s help for us with deep compassion. (Lumina)

Catechism 1503 – Christ’s compassion toward the sick and His many healings of every kind of infirmity are a resplendent sign that “God has visited His people” and that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. Jesus has the power not only to heal, but also to forgive sins; He has come to heal the whole person, soul and body; He is the physician the sick have need of. His compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that He identifies Himself with them: “I was sick and you visited Me.” His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them.

Catechism 1504 –  Often Jesus asks the sick to believe. He makes use of signs to heal: spittle and the laying on of hands, mud and washing. The sick try to touch Him, “for power came forth from Him and healed them all.” And so in the Sacraments Christ continues to “touch” us in order to heal us.


 


[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
“those whose hearts are frightened” = Those who are in exile because of their unfaithfulness.
[ii]  “the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; … the lame leap like a stag, … the tongue of the mute will sing” = The former “restrictions” of these believers will end, and they will rejoice because the Lord is redeeming them.
[iii]  “Streams will burst forth …, burning sands will become pools, … thirsty ground, springs of water” = Water breaking out in the arid wilderness is a symbol of the blessings from God that the redeemed Hebrews will shortly experience.
[iv]   Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“gives sight to the blind” = The Lord enlightens the people.
[v]  “The fatherless (orphans) and the widow the LORD sustains” = This represents finding and reaching out to all those in need and taking practical steps for providing their welfare.
[vi]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
“your assembly” = Synagogue, Catholic Church. or any social gathering.
[vii]  “those who are poor in the world” = The point is not that poverty itself is a blessing but that those with little in the world are better prepared to rely on God for their needs. It is the attitude that those who trust in their heavenly Father secures their inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven.
[viii]  Gospel Footnotes:
Decapolis = Gentile territory.
[ix]  “lay His hands on him” = The imposition of hands on the sick was a common feature in ancient healing rituals. It is based on the idea that the healer is a powerful person and is able to transmit healing. Imposition of hands is a common New Testament form of healing and exorcism.
[x]  “He put His finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue” = The laying on of Jesus’ hands would of itself have been sufficiently efficacious, and even, without moving a finger, He might have accomplished it by a single act of His will; but it is evident that He wanted to make abundant use of outward signs (like Sacraments), when they were found to be advantageous. Thus, by touching the tongue with spittle, He intended to point out that we are to communicate using His words; and by putting His fingers into the ears, He showed that we are to listen to His words.
[xi]  “He ordered them not to tell anyone.” = Jesus’ prohibition of talking about the cure is probably part of Mark’s insistence that Jesus is more than a healer and that His full identity only becomes known later by Jesus’ cross and resurrection. Scholars refer to this effort of Jesus to suppress His own fame as “the Messianic Secret” of Mark’s Gospel.
[xii]  “He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  = See Isaiah 35:5-6 (part of our first reading) which is part of a vision of Israel’s glorious future. This brings out the theological lesson of the cure: the age of Messianic salvation, announced by Isaiah, has arrived with Jesus.


SR-2018-09-02

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
22th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – September 2, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: The Heart of the Matter.

All three readings tell us that mere observance of laws or rules about faith without an ongoing deepening of our relationship with God and an internal conversion of our heart is futile. In Reading 2, St. James tells us that we must not be just hearers of God’s Word, but also doers of God’s Word.

Jesus tells us we are hypocrites if we honor God with our lips but our hearts are far from God. It’s also wrong if we obey the Law and the traditions, not to please God, but to be seen and admired. Our motive of self-glorification, destroys every otherwise good act we perform. It’s not ritual cleanliness that the Pharisees focus upon, but the cleanliness of the heart that matters to God. Moses tells the people that the Ten Commandments are to be understood and obeyed along with knowing why they are doing this – that is, for them to have a happy life.

St. James tells the people that “faith without works is dead” but St. Paul says “salvation by faith alone”. Why the difference? It’s the different in their definitions of “faith”. James believes that “faith” is a noun = only knowledge of God’s Law, awareness of sound theology. Paul believes that “faith” is a verb = obedient belief (includes doing God’s work which includes knowledge of God). So, “faith” from John equates to “belief” from Paul and “works” from James equates to “obedience” from Paul. Thus, these ties bring the two Saints together in agreement on salvation. – and that’s the heart of the matter.


Reading 1 – Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8     Moses tells the Israelites to observe the commandments that God gave them.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 15:2-5     Those who observe the commandments (do justice) will find favor with God.

Reading 2 – James 1:17-18,21b-22,27     James teaches that Christians should be doers of the Word.

Gospel – Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23     Jesus teaches that it is that which comes from our hearts that defiles us.


Reading 1     Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8                        (Observing God’s Law)

Context – The book of Deuteronomy (means second law, ie. the second giving of the Law) consists of three sermons or speeches delivered by Moses (when he was 120 years old), just prior to his death, to a new generation of Israelites shortly before they entered the Promised Land.  God kept the old generation in the desert for 40 years until they died out due to their refusal to follow His way as their God. Therefore, this new generation had not experienced the miracle at the Red Sea nor heard the law (Ten Commandments) given at Sinai, and they were about to enter a new land with many dangers and temptations. The book of Deuteronomy was given to remind them of God’s law and God’s power – it is a book of remembrance. Jesus quoted from this Book the most.
Today’s Reading – The Israelites are about to go into the Promised Land. In today’s reading, Moses is issuing a strong exhortation to the people to be faithful to their covenant with God by observing the law God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Moses stresses the uniqueness of God’s revelation to them and their responsibilities. He reminds the people that through their fidelity to God’s covenant with them, they will give evidence of their wisdom and intelligence to the nations. Other nations will stand in awe when they see how close Israel is to her God and how just are her laws. See below, at PAUSE, for information on “God’s covenant with them”.

Moses said to the people: “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees[i] which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live [a happy life], and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.[ii] Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’ For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD[iii], our God, is to us
whenever we call upon Him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          In the above introduction to Reading 1, it references the Mosaic Covenant – “God’s covenant with them”. A covenant is an agreement between two parties and identifies the responsibilities for which each party is accountable plus consequences are defined in the event of incompliances. Further, a covenant may be described as “a legal way to make someone part of your family.” (Like a marriage covenant – i.e. vows.) It can be said that the Bible is essentially the story of God trying to establish an extended family for Himself by reaching out to humanity time and again via covenants. There were covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus (the New Covenant – i.e. now), and then, in the fullness of time (Jesus’ Second Coming), will be the fulfillment of the New Covenant.
The Mosaic Covenant was basically the Ten Commandments and the ramification of not following them was exile (which actually happened later on due to the peoples’ infidelities). It is also during this moment that God commissions Moses to construct the Ark of the Covenant, in which will later be housed the manna, Arron’s staff, and the stone tablets themselves. The Ark, of course, is a type of the Holy Blessed Virgin Mary, as the vessel (i.e. baby Jesus in her womb) in which the presence of God dwells among His people. The manna in the Ark is itself a figure of the Eucharist.  


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 15:2-5                       (Practicing Justice)

Today’s Psalm – The psalmist is asking God who is worthy of worshiping Him. Basically, the answer is – the one who abides by the Lord’s covenant with them. The true worshippers are those who live good virtuous lives.

R. – The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.
R. – The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised, while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. – The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
[iv] and accepts no bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things shall never be disturbed.
R. – The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           The fact that David listed a total of 10 moral qualities in this psalm may indicate that he wanted to suggest a comparison with the Ten Commandments. Though the contents of these lists are not the same, they both identify traits that mark a person who is walking in the will of God. A believer needs to make sure they are walking in the will of God consistently to enjoy fellowship with God and stability in His life. And the Catholic Church has Sacraments that will assist our “walk”. 


Reading 2     James 1:17-18,21b-22,27                     (Act on God’s Word)

Context – The Letter of James is a sermon on how Christians ought to live. It is a pure specimen on the ethical teaching found in the Sermon On The Mount. St. James is called “the younger” or “the less” to distinguish him from James the brother of John. On account of his close kinship with Jesus he is known as the “brother of the Lord.” It is sometimes asserted that James is in conflict with Paul on the question of faith and works. James states “faith without works is dead.”  Paul states “the righteous shall live by faith”. However the difference between the two is one of emphasis and vocabulary. For Paul faith = obedient belief. For James faith = works and belief. So, “obedience” and “works” tie the two Apostles together in agreement.
Today’s Reading – We are reminded that every good gift comes from above; hence, our reason to always be grateful to God.  Here in this passage, we come across one of the most beautiful exhortations in all of Scripture: “Humbly welcome the Word that has been planted in you and has the power to save souls.” Opening our hearts to God’s Word always implies a readiness to act on what the Word asks of us; hence, James’ famous exhortation: “Be doers of the Word and not just hearers.” One of his suggestions on how we can accomplish this is to reach out to widows and orphans, two of the most uncared for groups in his time. True Gospel living always leads to some form of social action or justice.

Dearest brothers and sisters: All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights[v], with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth[vi] that we may be a kind of firstfruits[vii] of His creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you[viii] and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves[ix].

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows[x] in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world[xi].


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23                            (Sin Comes from the Heart)

Context – St. Mark’s Gospel was the first written of the Gospels contained in the New Testament. The date of writing was prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. St. Peter was Mark’s primary source of information about the life of Jesus. Mark is primarily known by his Roman name “Mark” but is sometimes called by his Jewish name “John” in other New Testament Writings. He was a cousin to Barnabas and an associate of St. Paul. Recognizing Jesus as the divine Son of God is the goal of this gospel. And it was written to encourage Christians who were suffering persecution for their faith. It begins with the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
Today’s Reading – Between the original giving of the Law to Moses and the time of this passage, some 600+ human traditions were added to the Ten Commandments by the Jewish leaders.  In time unfortunately, these human traditions will become as important as God’s Law. The tradition in question in this Gospel reading is “ritual hand-washing” done before eating. Ritual washing is performed very carefully following strict rules. Unfortunately, this external act became identified with one’s inner holiness. When questioned why His disciples disregard this important tradition of their ancestors, Jesus answers that holiness involves a lot more than ritual washing (external acts). It entails a lived faith which responds to God’s Word and cooperates with God’s forgiving and cleansing grace. Impeccably washed hands are no substitute for a clean heart. What Jesus seeks is a heart turned toward Him. Of the Pharisees, He says: “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” In the final verses of this week’s Gospel, Jesus says that defilement does not result from dirty hands but rather from a dirty heart where evil schemes are hatched.

When the Pharisees[xii] with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of His disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. —For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. — So the Pharisees and scribes questioned Him, “Why do Your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites[xiii], as it is written: This people honors Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me; in vain do they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.
[xiv]

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear Me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Catechism 2518 – The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual rectitude; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith: The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed “so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”


[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
“statutes and decrees” = Canons (The internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, for example.) and Rulings. As the Hebrews are about to move into the Promised Land, they will encounter people of other cultures and life styles that will pose temptations to them. So, God wants Moses to remind them of their statutes and decrees to which they are to abide. These God given statutes and degrees are basically given so that the people will be able to live a happy life. Everything God commanded them to do had a justifying reason or explanation. It was up to them to remember, both what they were to do and why they were to do it as well. The danger, of course, is to maintain the practice while forgetting the reason for the practice. This is also true for us today with our religiosity – we need to believe that God’s “Way” is for our benefit and wellbeing then understand “what we are to do and how” plus “why we are to do it”.
[ii]  “you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it” = You shall not add anything repugnant to the spirit of My law and no interpretation of this kind can be admitted.  BUT, this does not condemn additions for well authorized traditions and laws enacted by God’s directed prophets and disciples. If this were not so, the Bible would end here at this reading and there would be no books of the prophets, no Psalms, no Proverbs, nor a New Testament.
[iii]  “For what other great nations are there that have their gods so close to them as the LORD is to the Hebrews?” = This theology of “the God who is near” is connected with the ideology of the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle as the center of God’s and Jesus’, respectively, active physical presence with their people.
[iv]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“lends not his money at usury” = This prohibition against interest on loans (usury) has reference to charitable loans made for the relief of distress rather than to the purely business type of loan. Originally the Jews were an agrarian/nomadic society but they later moved to a commercial society where interest was allowed for commercial loans.
[v]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
“Father of Lights” = A reference to God as creator of the heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, stars, planets.
[vi]  “word of truth” = In New Testament usage, this means God’s saving revelation for us, foreshadowed in the “word” given to the prophets and in the “word” that is a synonym for the law (Mosaic Covenant), but fully expressed only in Christ and the gospel.
[vii]  “first fruits” = First fruits is an agriculture term for the initial produce reaped at the beginning of the harvest season. The Old Testament offering of the first fruits to God was meant to thank the Lord for His gifts and to seek blessing for an abundant harvest. In the New Testament, Christ is not only the First to be raised in glory, but His resurrected humanity is an offering that ensures an entire harvest of believers will be raised as He was.
[viii]  “the word that has been planted in you” = This is the gospel that we hear and then learn and understand with the help of the Holy Spirit, who was implanted in us at our baptism.
[ix]  “deluding yourselves” = As mentioned in Reading 1 footnotes – Everything God commanded them to do had a justifying reason or explanation. It was up to them to remember that God’s commands were for their benefit and that they needed to understand them and be obedient to them. Otherwise they would be deluding themselves thinking they were religious with just an academic knowledge of these commands.
[x]  “care for orphans and widows” = This represents finding and reaching out to all those in need and taking practical steps for providing their welfare.
[xi]  “keep oneself unstained by the world” = The word “world” is used here in a degrading sense meaning anything in opposition to God. That is – always keep oneself in harmony with God and His covenant because nothing that exists in the world can accomplish this for us.
[xii]  Gospel Footnotes:
Pharisees = The Pharisees (the name means “the ones set apart”) followed a way of life which they considered to be almost perfect. They considered their way as superior to others and they were foremost concerned with religious rituals as compared to the peoples’ concern – for primary needs and Jesus’ concern – for human suffering.
[xiii]  Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. = Jesus boldly called His critics hypocrites. They professed to honor God with their behavior, but they really did not honor Him in their hearts. What Isaiah said (as quoted in this passage) about the hypocrites in his day fit these critics exactly. They stressed guidelines to the exclusion of ethics and morals.
[xiv]  “cling to human tradition” = Jesus merely pointed out that perhaps that some human practices were being given more importance than God’s Commandments.


SR-2018-08-26

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
21th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – August 26, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: Faith Based Decisions.

Today’s scripture texts are about communities making a collective public statement of faith in the saving power of the God of Israel (Reading 1) and of the Savior sent by God (Gospel). Reading 2 talks about faithful relationships.

Faith is a gift from God that we can accept or reject (It is a free gift but we have to be willing to receive it.). That is, it is the Holy Spirit working within us to enlighten us and help us to have the courage to use our Free Will to accept the initial invitation from God (i.e. we must open up this gift) and then help us mature our faith through attaining knowledge of scripture, Church attendance, and listening to the proclamation of  His Word. Proof of our faith is shown by the Godly actions and works performed by us as we progress from our initiation into a life of obedient belief. This obedient belief protects our faith. “May your faith be joyful, because it is based on awareness of possessing a divine gift (St. John Paul II). “As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your soul” (1 Peter 1:9).

Catechism 166 – Faith is a personal act – the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.


Reading 1 – Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b     Joshua and the people declare that they will serve the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2-3,16-21     The Lord hears the cries of the just.

Reading 2 – Ephesians 5:21-32      Husbands and wives should love one another as Christ loves the Church.

Gospel – John 6:60-69     Simon Peter confesses his faith that Jesus alone has the words of the eternal life.


Reading 1     Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b                   (Serving the Lord)

Context – Joshua was born as a slave in Egypt, about 40 years before the Exodus. Joshua was an active participant in the Exodus, and was Moses’ military commander. Before Moses’ death, the leadership of Israel was formally transferred to Joshua. Moses passed all his authority on to Joshua, with the exception of his priestly powers, which went to Eleazar, the son of Aron. Joshua lead the Israelites into the Promised Land which was located on the other side of the Jordan river from where they were encamped. The crossing of the Jordan River involved a miracle – despite being at spring flood level, The Lord stopped the flow of water so that the Israelites, led by the Levelites carrying The Ark Of The Covenant, could cross on dry ground. Once across the Jordan, the Israelites camped at Gilgal where they observed the Passover. The next day, when they began eating from the produce of the Promised Land, the Manna stopped being supplied to them as it had been through their journey for the past 40 years in the desert. After the Promised Land came under the effective control of Israel, Joshua divided the land among the tribes, according to God’s instructions. Joshua died at the age of 110, 25 years after entry into the Promised Land.
Today’s Reading – This reading takes place in a covenant ceremony at Shechem, just prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land, where new tribes of people and their gods will be encountered. Joshua gathers all the tribes of Israel, who just completed 40 years of desert living, and challenges them to make a very important decision as to which god they will serve: i.e. the gods of the new homeland or the Lord who delivered them from Egypt. Joshua makes it clear whom he will serve: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Following Joshua’s lead, all the people pledge their allegiance to their faith in their God who has been so good to them.
This reading is included in the lectionary as an Old Testament story of faith in parallel to St. Peter’s profession of faith at the end of John 6 – in our Gospel reading today.

Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem, summoning their elders, their leaders, their judges, and their officers. When they stood in ranks before God, Joshua addressed all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River (Euphrates) or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”[i]

But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods. For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among the peoples through whom we passed. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the assurance (confidence) of things hoped for and the conviction (certainty) of things not seen.” The Israelis were confident that the God of their forefathers, Yahweh, was capable of providing for them when Joshua asked them who they wanted as their god. This was based upon their faith in Yahweh. 1. He delivered their parents from slavery under the Egyptians and after that, He provided provisioning for them during the past 40 years in the desert. (Memories of God’s activity in the past enables us to embrace the future.). 2. Plus, they were certain that Yahweh would continue to do the same for them based upon them being part of the chosen people, loved by Yahweh.


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 34:2-3,16-21                        (Refuge in the Lord)

Today’s Psalm – In these verses, the Lord says that He will hear the cry of the just (the faithful) and respond to their needs.

R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD
[ii] at all times; Hs praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The LORD has eyes for the just, and ears for their cry. The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress He rescues them.
[iii] The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit He saves.
R.- Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Many are the troubles of the just one, but out of them all, the LORD delivers him; He watches over all his bones; not one of them shall be broken.
[iv]
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


 Reading 2     Ephesians 5:21-32                   (Relationship Between Christ and His Church)

Context – Ephesians sets before us a vision of Christ reigning in Heaven next to the Father and renewing the earth through His Church. It shows God’s saving work through Jesus. The Church is nothing less than God’s new creation in Christ.
Today’s Reading – In these verses, the relationship between husbands and wives is patterned after the relationship between Christ and His Church. The apostle has developed an analogy whereby husband represents Christ and wife represents church. This teaching has its roots in the Old Testament where the relationships between Yahweh and His people are expressed, through the preaching of the prophets, in terms of the relationships between husband and wife. A Christ-like love would never cause a husband nor wife to dominate the other but rather lay down his/her life for the other—just as Christ laid down His life for His Church.

Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.[v] Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church[vi], He Himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed Himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the Word, that He might present to Himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish[vii]. So also husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.[viii] This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.  


Gospel     John 6:60-69                                  (Words of Life)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – Today’s reading follows the miracle in which Jesus fed more than five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus explains that He is the Bread of Life, given so that those who believe may have eternal life.  Jesus is calling His listeners and disciples to have faith in Him as the One sent by God.  But the people resist and continue in disbelief. Their faith is “shaken” by Jesus’ words but Jesus makes no effort to water down what He has been teaching them.  In fact, He questions them, “If you were troubled by the thought of Me descending from heaven, what will you think of Me when I ascend and go back to heaven?” Jesus is telling us that if we live only in the “flesh” (i.e., on the natural level), we can never understand who He is or what He is about.  We must become spiritually connected to Him by faith which, of course, is a gift—but it demands our cooperation. At this point, many disciples walk away. They just cannot embrace Jesus or His claims. But the apostles remain and represented by Peter, professes faith in Jesus with Peter’s profession of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”.

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard[ix]; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that His disciples were murmuring about this, He said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life[x], while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray Him. And He said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by My Father[xi].”

As a result of this, many of His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Master, to whom shall we go?[xii] You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 153 – When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “My Father who is in heaven”. Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by Him. “Before this faith can be exercised, we must have the grace of God to move and assist us; we must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.'”

Catechism 161 – Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent Him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. “Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘But we who endures to the end.'”



[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
Joshua asks the people whom they will serve. That is, in whom do they want to place their faith for delivering their salvation. = By this method of free choice, the minds and hearts of the people are compelled to make the free and decided selection of, which god alone can ensure their eternal happiness.
[ii]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
 “I will bless the Lord” = I will thank the Lord and honor His name by an exclamation of gratitude and admiration to Him, from the depths of my soul, for His works and His blessings that show His love for us.
[iii]  “When the just cry out … He rescues them” = God grants the petitions of the righteous when they pray for deliverance.
[iv]  “Not one of His bones shall be broken” = Keeping his bones from breaking expresses complete protection in spite of cruel opposition. The Apostle John used this verse to describe God’s care of His Son during His crucifixion. Not one of Jesus’ bones were broken (John 19:36).
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“be subordinate to one another” = Christ’s self-sacrificing love for others (emptying Himself of His divinity to be like us) is the model for home and Christian life.
[vi]  “Christ is head of His church” = Being the head of something involves responsibility for cherishing and protecting something.
[vii]  “that she might be holy and without wrinkle” = St. Augustine and others expound this to be the glorious Church of Christ in heaven, and others even of the Church of Christ in this world, as to its doctrine, sacraments, and discipline, or practices approved by the Catholic Church. In today’s tragedy within the Catholic Church, it is important to remember that Jesus originally created His Church – “holy and without wrinkle”.  Hopefully, with God’s help, the Church will recover and become once again – “holy and without wrinkle”.
[viii]   “the two shall become one flesh” = This describes the marriage relationship between man and woman which is analogous to the relationship between Christ and His Church.
[ix]  Gospel Footnotes:
“This saying is hard” = This “saying” relates to Jesus telling His disciples about His Eucharistic teaching – eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In addition, it also includes Jesus telling them that He has come down from heaven. So this “saying” is hard because it is difficult to believe and to some, offensive.
[x]  “It is the Holy Spirit that gives life” = It is the grace of God, given by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that gives a spiritual life. A body without a spirit is dead, a corpse. Without the Holy Spirit, they are spiritually dead.
[xi]  “no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by My Father” = It requires faith to “come to Jesus”, and that faith comes to us as an initial gift from God.
[xii]  Peter said “to whom should we go”? = Peter is saying – We don’t fully understand your message, but we have enough faith in You because of He who sent You that we will stay with You. You have given us God’s promise of eternal life if we are faithful.


 

SR-2018-08-19

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – August 19, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: The Eucharistic Celebration.

Reading 1 speaks about the wisdom of God in creating our Church and the Eucharist. The Gospel focuses upon Jesus giving bread (His Flesh and Blood) “for the life of the world” that we receive in the Eucharist. In Reading 2, Paul directs us to conduct our lives by way of God’s will for each of us.


Reading 1 – Proverbs 9:1-6     Wisdom has set a feast before us.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2-7     A prayer of praise to God for His goodness.

Reading 2 – Ephesians 5:15-20     Filled with the Holy Spirit, Christians strive to follow the will of the Lord.

Gospel – John 6:51-58     Jesus teaches that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood will live forever.


Reading 1     Proverbs 9:1-6              (Divine Food and Drink)

Context – The Book of Proverbs is a compendium of moral and religious instruction as given to Jewish youth by professional sages in the post-exile period. Proverbs is the most typical example of a “wisdom” book in the Old Testament with its emphasis on: moral high probity (adherence to the highest principles and ideals) based on religion, its teaching that reward and punishment follow in this life, its appeal to the lessons of experience rather than to revelation, and its exploration of the nature of wisdom and of wisdom’s relation to God. (“Wisdom” here means not merely the practical ability to succeed well in life, or even the art of behaving ethically, but spiritual vision, understanding of God and His activity in our lives and history.) A follow-up to Proverbs is the Book of Sirach in the Apocrypha.
Today’s Reading – We are introduced to the personified wisdom of God, sometimes called Lady Wisdom. She has built herself a perfect house (church) with seven columns, seven being the biblical symbol for perfection. In her home, she prepares a lavish banquet of great foods and wines (the altar with the Eucharist), and invites (via the priests) all to come and partake.  All who come are guaranteed to “advance in the way of understanding.”

Wisdom (God) has built her house[i], she has set up her seven columns[ii]; she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine, yes, she has spread her table (The Eucharist on the Altar). She has sent out her maidens[iii]; she calls from the heights out over the city: “Let whoever is simple (humble) turn in here; To the one who lacks understanding (one searching for the truth and acceptance), she says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness (pride) that you may live (enjoy life and serve the Lord with gladness); advance in the way of understanding (follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit).”[iv]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


 Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 34:2-7                        (Taste the Lord’s Goodness)

Today’s Psalm – The response “Taste and see” exhorts us to feast (trust, participate, involve yourself in) on the Lord and to advance in our understanding of His presence in our midst.

R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD
[v] at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly (humble) will hear me and be glad.[vi]
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD
[vii] with me, let us together extol (promote) His name. I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears[viii].
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to Him
[ix] that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. When the poor one (humble) called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress He saved him.[x]
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. 


Reading 2     Ephesians 5:15-20               (Discern God’s Will)

Context – Ephesians sets before us a vision of Christ reigning in Heaven next to the Father and renewing the earth through His Church. It shows God’s saving work through Jesus. The Church is nothing less than God’s new creation in Christ.
Today’s Reading – This reading harmonizes well with the wisdom theme found in Reading 1. Paul is strongly encouraging his readers to reject the way of foolishness and to embrace the path of wisdom which seeks to discover God’s will and sing His praises.

Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise[xi], making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil[xii]. Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord[xiii]. And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Holy Spirit[xiv], addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything[xv] in the Name of[xvi] our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Gospel     John 6:51-58                                 (Need for Communion)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – In summary: Jesus Himself is the bread sent by God; Jesus’ flesh is the bread that is given for the life of the world.
Among the stumbling blocks for those who heard but did not understand Jesus, is the teaching that the bread that Jesus will give is His own flesh. In response to the people who quarreled over His words, Jesus teaches with even greater emphasis that salvation comes to those who eat His Body and Blood. To many ears, Jesus’ words are jarring and difficult to hear. Many who heard Jesus could not accept what He said. Many today continue to struggle to accept these words. But they are important words because they reveal our intimate connection with Jesus.
This is the mystery that is at the heart of our eucharistic theology. In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are made truly present. When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus Himself comes to dwell within us. This communion with the Lord makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s body for the life of the world.

Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of Me. This is the Bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate [the manna from heaven] and still died, whoever eats this Bread will live forever.”[xvii]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          


Catechism 1373 – “Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to His Church: in His word, in His Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in My name,” in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which He is the Author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the Person of the Minister. But “He is present … most especially in the Eucharistic species.”

Catechism 1376 – The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly His body that He was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the Holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” 

Catechism 1384 – The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive Him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”



[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
“Wisdom has built her house” = “House” is the Church. Here we may receive all Godly instruction, the seven sacraments, and the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (Fear of the Lord, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, counsel, and courage.)
[ii]  “seven columns” = “Seven” to the Jews indicated perfection.
[iii]  “sent out her maidens” = The “maidens” are the pastors of the church, inviting all of us to piety.
[iv]  “advance in the way of understanding” = The parallel between wisdom and walking in God’s ways (Godliness) is clear in this passage. Jesus is “the Way”.
[v]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“I will bless the Lord” = I will thank the Lord and honor His name by an exclamation of gratitude and admiration to Him, from the depths of my soul, for His works and His blessings that show His love for us.
[vi] “the lowly (humble) will hear me and be glad” = We will learn the Godly truth and be able to live it.
[vii]  “Glorify the Lord” = This happens when we show our faith (obedient belief), hope and trust in Him by our character, conduct, and conversation.
[viii]  “delivered me from all my fears” = He helps me to stay in my walk with Him by His guidance, patience, and forgiveness when I stumble.
[ix] “Look to Him” = Look to Him by faith and good works.”
[x] “When the poor one (humble) called out … He saved him.” = What then should hinder us from addressing our prayers to God and trusting in His response to them?
[xi]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
“a wise person” = The wise person is one who views and sees things the way God does.
[xii] “the days are evil” = This refers to what has occurred in the day. Some of the things that occur in it are good, as they are enabled by God. Some are bad, because they are brought about by evil desires and deeds on the part of we humans.
[xiii]  “the will of the Lord” = The first meaning of the will of the Lord is: It is God’s sovereign control of all things – His “sovereign will” or His “will of decree.” It cannot be broken. It always comes to pass. The other meaning of “the will of the Lord” is His “will of command.” It is what He commands us to do but by our own Free Will (or by our ignorance of His will), we either obey or disobey God. This passage of Reading 2, is in reference to the second definition of “the will of the Lord” – that is, God’s will of command. Through wisdom we learn and understand “the will of the Lord” and by our obedience to Him, we carry out “His commands”.
[xiv]  “be filled with the Holy Spirit” = “One drunk with wine sways and stumbles. But one who is filled with the Holy Spirit has solid footing in Christ. This is a fine drunkenness, which produces even greater sobriety of mind”. (Saint Ambrose)
[xv]  “always giving thanks” = It is possible to be thankful in all things when we recognize that God is at work in our lives for His glory and our good. When God controls us, we are thankful. This is certainly difficult to do in hard times.
[xvi]  “in the Name of” = This means: By the authority of; As the representative of; Supported by.
[xvii]  Gospel Footnotes:
“whoever eats this Bread will live forever” = There is similarity here between the “Tree of Life” in the Garden of Eden, which bore the fruit of immortality, and “Jesus, the Bread of Life” which Catholic Tradition calls the “medicine of immortality”.


SR-2018-08-12

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – August 12, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: Our Obedient Belief in Jesus Equips Us for Heaven.

We believe in a loving God, and in His divine Son, Jesus Christ, who came on earth to bring us to heaven, and in the Holy Spirit who helps us complete the work of sanctification in us. Our faith is a gift from God and the Holy Spirit helps us develop our faith into obedient belief which makes it possible to know and properly follow Jesus. The knowledge that our Christian faith gives us concerns both our eternity and our journey toward it.

In Reading 1, Elijah receives and accepts the sustenance, from an angel of the Lord, that is necessary for his journey to heaven. Reading 2 identifies those acceptable behaviors on our journey to heaven that will make us acceptable to God when we arrive there. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us about His role in sustaining us and enabling us, if we cooperate with Him, to live the proper life for a successful journey to heaven.


Reading 1 – 1 Kings 19:4-8     The Lord feeds Elijah, strengthening him for his journey to Horeb.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 34:2-9     A prayer of praise to God for His goodness.

Reading 2 – Ephesians 4:30—5:2     The Ephesians are encouraged to be imitators of Christ.

Gospel – John 6:41-51     Jesus responds to the murmurs of the crowd, who wonders what He means when He says that He came down from heaven.


Reading 1     1 Kings 19:4-8              (Supernatural Food)

Context – Kings 1 & 2, records the events of the reign of Solomon (970 – 930 BC) and then the succeeding kings of Judah and Israel (930 – 588 BC). (When Solomon died, the 12 Jewish tribes – ie. the 12 sons of Jacob, split into two separate Kingdoms – Judah, the southern Kingdom – made up of two tribes, and Israel, the northern Kingdom – made up of ten tribes.) After King Solomon, God no longer used the kingship to be the medium through which He governed His people but instead chose to use prophets for this function. Elijah was one of the most outstanding prophets and was from the northern Kingdom.
Today’s Reading – King Ahab and his Queen Jezebel have banished Elijah from his homeland because he was trying to convert the people from worshiping the god Baal. To escape their wrath, Elijah journeys out into the desert, not to pray for strength to continue his journey but to pray for death. “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life.”  Then an angel of the Lord visits the discouraged prophet— not once but twice. Strengthened by “food from heaven,” Elijah gets up and walks forty days and forty nights to the mountain of Horeb (another name for Sinai) where Moses encountered God. There he will be blessed with another intimate experience of God and recommissioned as a prophet to his people.

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: “This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”  He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food
[i], he walked forty days[ii] and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb[iii].


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.         How many times have we said “enough is enough”? We get overwhelmed by the apparent overload of our “crosses” to bear and for some, suicide is contemplated. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. Even the great prophet Elijah contemplated death as the answer to his problems. Apparently, he thought he should have been totally successful in eliminating the worship of the pagan god Baal by converting all the people to worship the God of Abraham. His efforts failed and he was in flight for his life from queen Jezebel because of these failed conversion efforts. Thankfully he quieted himself and opened his mind to the guidance of the Lord, which came to him through an angel, and he was able to continue to go forward as the great prophet he was. The Lord speaks to us either directly and/or through those around us. We just need to put ourselves in His presence and then watch what happens. Trust in your prayers.  


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 34:2-9                       (Refuge in God)

Today’s Psalm – This is a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving. The invitation to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” is a perfect tie-in with Reading 1 and the Gospel.

R. – Taste (try, test, sample, experience, witness, receive) and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly
(humble) will hear me and be glad.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me, Let us together extol His name. I sought the LORD, and He answered me And delivered me from all my fears.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy. And your faces may not blush with shame. When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard, And from all his distress He saved him.
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him
[iv] and delivers them. Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in Him.[v]
R. – Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.    


Reading 2     Ephesians 4:30—5:2                              (Imitating God’s Goodness)

Context – Ephesians sets before us a vision of Christ reigning in Heaven next to the Father and renewing the earth through His Church. It shows God’s saving work through Jesus. The Church is nothing less than God’s new creation in Christ.
Today’s Reading – Paul continues to speak to the Ephesians about living their new life in Christ.  He exhorts them to “not grieve the Holy Spirit” by not engaging in “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling, or any kind of malice.” Then Paul points out attitudes and behaviors that will gladden the Holy Spirit, namely, compassion, forgiveness, and following the way of love!

Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve (sadden, offend, disobey, sin against) the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption[vi]. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma[vii].


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.


Gospel     John 6:41-51                                 (Jesus, The Living Bread)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – Jesus talks about His unity with the Father. He is the one who has seen the Father and, therefore, knows the Father. Those who listen to God will recognize that Jesus is the one sent from God. Those who believe will have eternal life. Jesus concludes with the central element of our eucharistic theology: He promises that the bread of life will bring eternal life to those who partake of it, and He tells us that the bread of life will be His own flesh, given for the life of the world.

The Jews murmured about Jesus because He said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the Son of Joseph? Do we not know His father and mother? Then how can He say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”[viii] Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him[ix], and I will raise him on the last day[x]. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to My Father and learns from Him comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father[xi]. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; This is the Bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism 1355 – In the communion, preceded by the Lord’s prayer and the breaking of the bread, the faithful receive “the Bread of Heaven” and “the Cup of Salvation,” the body and blood of Christ who offered Himself “for the life of the world”:
Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist (“eucharisted,” according to an ancient expression), “we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless they believe that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught.”


Taste and See

 

Refrain: Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord. O taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord, of the Lord.

 1. I will bless the Lord at all times. Praise shall always be on my lips; my soul shall glory in the Lord
for God has been so good to me. 

2. Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us all praise God’s name. I called the Lord who answered me;
from all my troubles I was set free. 

3. Worship the Lord, all you people. You’ll want for nothing if you ask. Taste and see that the Lord is good; in God we need put all our trust. (James E. Moore)


[i] Reading 1 Footnotes:
“strengthened by that food” = This bread with which Elijah was fed in the wilderness, was a figure of the Bread of Life (Jesus), which we receive at Mass in the Blessed Sacrament: by the strength of which we are to be supported in our journey through the wilderness of this world, till we come to the true mountain of God, in a happy eternity.
[ii]  “forty days” = Forty, in Hebrew numerology, is the number associated with a “period of”, for example: trial (40 days in Lent), testing (after Jesus was baptized, He fasted 40 days in the desert and was tested by the devil), a time of change (rained for 40 days), a generation (40 years in the desert before going to the Promised Land).
[iii]  “Horeb” = Horeb is also called Sinai, the place where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. It’s also the place of the incidences of “the burning bush” and “the worship of the golden calf”.
[iv]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“fear the Lord” = Love Him in good times and in bad, be obedient to Him, learn about Him, trust Him, tell others about Him, hate evil.
[v]  “take refuge in the Lord” = David called on the people to experience the Lord’s goodness personally by their obedient belief and by relying on Him in their times of distress.
[vi]  Reading 2 Footnotes:
“sealed by the Holy Spirit” = Our behavior is “sealed” by God’s Holy Spirit and so we are expected to be extraordinarily humane and gracious.                     
[vii]  “fragrant aroma” = Jesus’ self-sacrifice was pleasing and acceptable to God, as a sweet aroma.
[viii]  Gospel Footnotes:
Jesus said He came down from heaven = His claim to have come down from heaven seemed to the people of His home town to contradict what they knew about His human origins. They were thinking only in physical terms. The Incarnation of the Son of God in Jesus was and remains the great stumbling block in Christianity for the Jews.
[ix] “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him.” = God draws us to Himself by revealing Himself through Jesus. That enlightenment comes primarily through the Scriptures, God’s principle tool. God teaches people about Himself through Jesus. Listening to Jesus then becomes essential for learning from God. The result is eternal or everlasting life that the believer begins to enjoy the moment he or she believes in Jesus. All of this is part of what Jesus meant when He claimed to be the Bread of Life.
[x]  “I will raise them on the last day” = This is salvation for us and it results not only from belief, but believing so deeply that you act on that belief and “Do whatever He tells you”
[xi]  “He has seen the Father” = Jesus has seen the Father; He has come down from heaven. We can know God the Father only through the Son because He has seen Him and has come to reveal Him to us.


SR-2018-08-05

SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – August 5, 2018


This Sunday’s Theme: Remembering Past Blessings Gives Us Faith for the Future.

Reading 1 and the Gospel focus upon God the Father as the One who provides us with the “food” we need for our spiritual and physical life. But like pagans, we live with empty minds and are so taken up with filling our stomachs and the needs of this life that we fail to grasp the real meaning of His gifts or the incomparable worth of the Bread of Life who is Jesus Himself. Receiving these gifts, we become a new creation, with a fresh, spiritual way of thinking as shown in Reading 2. (CatholicCulture.org)


Reading 1 – Exodus 16:2–4, 12–15     The Lord feeds the Israelites with manna.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 78:3–4, 23–25, 54      A song of praise to God for His Bread from Heaven.

Reading 2 – Ephesians 4:17, 20–24     Christians become a new creation in Christ.

Gospel – John 6:24–35     Jesus teaches the crowds that He is the “bread of life.”


Reading 1     Exodus 16:2–4, 12–15             (Manna from Heaven)

Context – The Book of Exodus (the word “exodus” means “departure”) bears witness to God’s actions (about 1350-1200 BC) to deliver a people from bondage and to bind them to Himself in covenant. The Book of Exodus is a continuation of the story of Genesis. The fact that it takes its name from the Israelites’ going out of Egypt shows the importance of this episode in the life of Israel. At the center of all this stood Moses who was called by God to be the agent in delivering Israel from slavery, to be the interpreter of God’s redemptive work, and to be the mediator of the covenant. This book tells of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, the birth and education of Moses and his flight into the land of Midian, his encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Horeb) (the burning bush), Moses’ return to Egypt and pleadings with Pharaoh, the plagues of Egypt, the institution of the Passover, the passing through the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, the golden calf, and the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
Today’s Reading – After the Passover and escape through the Red Sea into the desert, the whole Israelite community did not at first have sufficient food resources and they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying that they were better off in Egypt than they are now, starving in the desert; that at least in Egypt they had something to eat. Their grumbling shows their lack of faith in God and remembrance of His past miracles (Pentecost and parting of the Red Sea) to provide for them. What’s really sad is not their clamoring for food, which is understandable, but their preference for their former life of oppression in Egypt. Their complaint is a slap in the face of the God who just liberated them.  But despite their lack of faith in God and their desire for their old way of life, God comes to their rescue and gives them lots of bread. The people are only to gather enough food for each day so that they will learn to trust in the God who gives us “this day our Daily Bread.” God also provided quail (meat) for their evening meal. All of this is intended to show the people God’s care for them. The reading ends with a reminder that the blessings of bread and meat are from heaven as is the source of all of our blessings.

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots[i] and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow My instructions or not[ii].

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”[iii] for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.              God tested His people (i.e. made them hungry) and they responded by not asking Him for sustenance, but instead complained and desired to be in their previous situation in life (i.e. in cruel captivity but with lots of food). Their grumbling shows their lack of faith in God and remembrance of His past miracles (Pentecost and parting of the Red Sea) to provide for them. The only correct response to God’s test was for the people to ask Him for help and trust that He would deliver. God loved them too much to grant their wish to them “for the good ole days” but instead gave them the sustenance that He knew was best for them.
Lesson – When you are getting weary waiting for God to act and wondering if He still cares, remember the following:  Memories of God’s activity in the past enables us to embrace the future. Let God do God’s work without trying to figure it out. (Fr. James Martin SJ). “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done.” (Ps 143:5)


Responsorial Psalm.     Psalm 78:3–4, 23–25, 54                (Heavenly Bread)

Today’s Psalm – This Psalm sings of God’s greatness in providing food from heaven for His pilgrim[iv] people.

R. – The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
What we have heard and know, and what our fathers have declared to us, We will declare to the generation to come the glorious deeds of the LORD and His strength and the wonders that He wrought.
R. – The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven; He rained manna upon them for food and gave them heavenly bread.
R. – The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
Man ate the bread of angels
(manna), food He sent them in abundance. And He brought them to His holy land (the Promised Land), to the mountains His right hand had won.
R. – The Lord gave them bread from heaven.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.          This Psalm’s purpose was to teach the young Jews about the past wonderous blessings from the Lord and that therefore they can trust in Him for blessings in the future if they obey His Word. This would enable them to avoid the mistakes of their ancestors who were stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful to Yahweh. Parents then and today, need to communicate God’s truth down through the generations.


Reading 2     Ephesians 4:17, 20–24                           (A New Self)

Context – Ephesians sets before us a vision of Christ reigning in Heaven next to the Father and renewing the earth through His Church. It shows God’s saving work through Jesus. The Church is nothing less than God’s new creation in Christ.
Today’s Reading –   In the ritual of baptism, those adults to be baptized put aside their old clothes, symbolizing their decision to put behind them their old sinful way of life. After they come forth from the waters of baptism, they clothe themselves with a new white garment symbolizing their decision to put on Christ and His values as their new way of life. It seems Paul is using this baptismal ritual to exhort his readers to put aside the way of sin and darkness and to put on the new life of Christ.  The pre-baptismal way of living is futile. The postbaptismal way leads to life and truth. As a small aside: notice that this reading is one sentence.

Brothers and sisters: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles[v] do, in the futility of their minds[vi]; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of Him and were taught in Him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires[vii], and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self[viii], created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.           Catechism 1473 – The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. They should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old self” and to put on the “new self.”  



Gospel     John 6:24–35                                 (Christ, True Bread from Heaven)

Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him.  John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of this Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – This scene in today’s Gospel follows immediately after the multiplication of the loaves (last Sunday’s Gospel). Jesus had withdrawn to a quiet place with His disciples because the people wanted to make Him king. But the crowd went after Him. Jesus tells them that they are following Him because He filled their bellies with perishable food. He then tells them to seek after food that “endures for eternal life”, a reference to the Eucharist.
When the crowd asks: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus tells them that they must believe in Him. Then the people ask Jesus for a sign which shows how slow they are to believe because they had just witnessed Jesus heal the sick and feed thousands with a few loaves.
Then the crowds refer back to the manna which Moses gave their ancestors, Jesus says that it was not Moses who gave the bread, but Jesus’ Father. Then Jesus says that He is Bread from Heaven. John wants his contemporaries to see Jesus as heavenly food that feeds their deepest spiritual needs.

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor His disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum[ix] looking for Jesus. And when they found Him across the sea they said to Him, “Rabbi[x], when did You get here?” Jesus answered them and said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you
[xi], you are looking for Me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life[xii], which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” So they said to Him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent.”[xiii] So they said to him, “What sign can You do, that we may see and believe in You? What can You do?[xiv] Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the Bread from heaven; my Father gives you the True Bread from heaven.
[xv] For the Bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to Him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”[xvi]


PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.

Catechism – see Pause at Reading 2, above.


[i]  Reading 1 Footnotes:
the fleshpots of Egypt = They refer to the many seasoned and delicious foods that the Israelis ate while in captivity in Egypt.
[ii]  Test them to see if they will follow God’s instructions.” = God is testing their faith by providing only a portion of manna that is sufficient for one day’s sustenance.
[iii]  “What is it?” = This is the literal translation for “manna”, which means “the Bread which the Lord has given”. Today we Christians know this Bread as Jesus – “the Bread of Life”.
[iv]  Responsorial Psalm Footnotes:
“pilgrim” = A pilgrim is a traveler (literally one who has come from afar) who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journey (often on foot) to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system. In the spiritual literature, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world (considered as a period of exile) or to the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.
[v] Reading 2 Footnotes:
“Gentiles” = Sometimes, the word “Gentiles” in the Pauline letters refers to people who practiced pagan religious faith, as distinct from Jews and Jewish-Christians.
[vi]  “futility of mind” = “This occurs when someone has a mind but does not use it for contemplation, instead surrendering it to captivity under Satan.” (Origin)
[vii]  “deceitful desires” = An umbrella term for all that works contrary to the broad and deep Gospel way of life.
[viii]  “put away the old self” and “put on the new self.”  = These words belong to an old adult baptismal liturgy. The candidate removed his old clothes, went into the baptismal water, then put on new white clothing upon emerging; outward signs of an inner change: He had put aside his former life, washed away his sin, and put on Christ, beginning a new manner of life. A “new self” is the life lived by the Christian disciple who embraces the Gospel and who sets out to live that Gospel message faithfully and thoughtfully.
[ix]  Gospel Footnotes:
Capernaum = Capernaum is a city on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, twenty miles north of Nazareth. Jesus began His public ministry there by teaching in the synagogue.
[x]  “Rabbi” = The use of this address to Jesus is significant because, even though they don’t know precisely who He is, or what His mission is, they do recognize Him as a religious leader.
[xi]  “Amen, I say to you” = Jesus’ use of ‘Amen’ to introduce and endorse His own words is without analogy in the whole of Jewish literature and in the NT. ‘Amen’ denotes that His words are reliable and true because He is totally committed to do and speak the will of God. As such, the Amen-formulation is not only a highly significant characteristic of Jesus’ speech, but a Christological affirmation: Jesus is the true witness of God.”
[xii]  “food that endures for eternal life” = Material food keeps us alive in this world, spiritual food sustains and develops supernatural life which will last forever. This spiritual food, only God can give us. Through God’s infinite love we are given, in the Blessed Eucharist, Jesus Himself as nourishment for our souls.
[xiii]  “What can we do to accomplish the works of God? … Believe in the One He sent.” = Their task is to believe in Jesus, and be in obedience to what He says, in faith (i.e. not just because of the miracles He does but also because of Who sent Him). He who comes from God speaks the words of God.
[xiv] “What can You do?” = Here we go again, Reading 1 showed that the people had short memory of past miracle blessings and had no trust in future blessings. In this Gospel reading, the people’s enthusiasm over the previous miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes is already beginning to wane. They are questioning rather than trusting future blessings.
[xv]  “Moses gave …My Father gives” = Note the transition from past tense to present tense “Moses gave – my Father gives”.
[xvi] “I am the Bread of life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”   = Here Jesus equates coming to Him to mean believing in Him. It is through faith that we approach our Lord. Jesus also uses the analogy of food and drink to show that He is the one who really meets all of our aspirations and meets all of our needs.