Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Readings

Prv 9:1-6

Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

Eph 5:15-20

Jn 6:51-58

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Kevin C. Mullins, O.S.A.

Prior Provincial

Augustinian Provincialate

San Diego, California

Over the course of the past four weeks we have been invited to hear and reflect upon a
good portion of what is known as “the Bread of Life discourse” in the gospel of St. John.

Inasmuch as we are in the year of St. Mark, this shift to the fourth gospel for a 4-week period signifies the importance of this prominent discourse and serves as a reminder of the implications of it in our own lived faith-journey.

Three Sundays prior we heard about the so-called “feeding of the multitudes,” an event
recorded six times in the four gospels. It is easy to see how that event images the feeding of the living body of Christ (who we are) and the power of God/Christ in the world around us. Just so, it also called into question the various motivations of those who sought out Jesus and what they were hoping to get as a result.

Some clearly followed Jesus because he offered healing, nourishment, and salvation. In
those ways Jesus was truly revealed as the fulfillment of God's promise. Others, it would appear, followed for less noble reasons, perhaps to see what miracle might come next or, perhaps, to see what was in it for them at a very practical level. In either case there was, indeed, “more to come,” but not always what people sought or banked on.

Two Sundays ago we heard that some wanted to view Jesus as a competitor with Moses (he claims to be greater than…) and some simply wanted MORE (when “enough” isn't enough…). But Jesus wanted them to understand that the bread he came to give was meant to make them hunger and thirst for the non-perishable goods: for righteousness, for the good of others, for lasting justice and true peace.

A week ago Jesus defined himself as “I AM,” thereby equating himself with God. We are
told the people murmured – just as their forbearers had done in the desert – and then they asked the great, Irish ontological question: Just who … does he think he is???

Jesus responded: I AM the bread of life! I AM the living bread! I AM the bread that came down from heaven! And in so doing, Jesus made it clear they had a choice to make: Accept me or reject me, choose one or the other, because there is no in-between alternative! Choose life or choose death…

And now we come to the fourth week of our journey. And once again Jesus invites us into
something so awesome and wonderful that perhaps we are not fully capable of comprehending it:

Jesus is inviting us into an intimate relationship that has been initiated by God, a relationship that began with our Baptism – when we were “sealed with the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption.”

It is a relationship that promises us the gift of eternal life in union with our God.

The challenge, of course, is that such a gift and such a relationship has consequences, if not complications, when we enter into it. Today Jesus invites us to not only receive the bread of life, the bread come down from heaven, the bread that leads to eternal life - but also to be that “bread of life” for one another.

Concurrent with the readings from the Gospel of St. John, we have been reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. Paul has clearly encapsulated the meaning of the gift and relationship we are offered. Simply put, Paul says we are invited to live in the unity that our ritual sacraments and prayers signify – and to know that all God’s children are called to be one, called to share in the excessive love and generosity that God desires for us and that Jesus provides for us.

Paul invites you and me to live the vocation to which we have been called!

Paul invites you and me to put on Christ, and to follow in his ways!

Paul invites you and me to be who we are because of the gift we have received!

But first we have to know Christ, because we cannot love what we do not know. Who Jesus is, how Jesus is for us – to know him and to know this is the ongoing challenge of our faith and our growth as his believers, as his followers, as his disciples. In effect, Jesus tells us “I am who and what I am because I am created in the image and likeness of my Father in Heaven. I am the living bread come down from heaven because God is in me and I am in him – and my Father chooses to share this fully with you in this very moment of your lives.”

And, most importantly, Jesus offers to nourish us for our journey of faith – to give us the very bread of life-eternal that we might be better able to imitate his self-offering in the outpouring of his divine love - for us. Feast on me, Jesus offers, because I am for you. Receive my very flesh and blood, so that you may be my very flesh and blood in the world around you – in service of one another.

Nourished by this divine gift, let us remain in Him and let us be imitators of God’s love, and of Christ’s compassion, as we accompany and nourish one another along the way of His gospel. So wonderfully gifted and nourished, let us give thanks and praise for the relentless generosity and graciousness of the God who has first loved us, who calls us His own, and nourishes us with the intimate gift of the living bread come down from heaven.

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B

Readings

Ex 16:2-4, 12-15
Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Eph 4:17, 20-24
Jn 6:24-35

Robert P. Hagan, O.S.A.
Villanova Univeristy Villanova, Pennsylvania

Hungry and Humble

Much has been said, written, tweeted and blogged about a Villanova University Men’s Basketball program that has captured 2 of the last 3 NCAA Championships. The program is far from perfect, but there are some core values, foundational building blocks, that contribute to lasting and sustained success. Ask a tournament MVP, a first round NBA draft pick, a walk on who never plays, a manager who does all the laundry behind the scenes, or their award winning coach, and you will hear the same mantra: “We strive to stay hungry and humble.” They literally wear bracelets on each arm that say “Hungry and Humble,” as a reminder of the importance of living, thinking and playing this way.

While I have seen these young men pack away thousands of calories in the form of chicken, steak, fish and vegetables, it is clear that this band of brothers is hungry for something so much more than what the training table can offer. This is a group that never talks about winning championships, but more of their desire, their hunger to play for each other, to play for those who have gone before them. There is a hunger for unity, a hunger for togetherness, a hunger for belonging that creates a spirit among them that supersedes all those other things inlife that fail to satisfy. Another trophy, championship or net cut down cannot come close to the fulfillment of being part of something bigger than self, and they believeit.

 

We recall that Jesus fed the 5000 last week with 5 loaves and 2 fish. What an incredible meal! The disciples and many others recall this also. They went looking for Jesus to provide more. Jesus didn’t want to be known simply as one who can get us stuff. He is literally coaching us up and urging us to stay hungry and humble. “I can fill more than your stomachs.” “Do not work for food which perishes, work for food that lasts.” Isaiah reminds us: “Why labor for that which does not satisfy?”

Jesus knows that we have physical hunger, and we do well to help provide food for those who are in dire need of something to eat, but He also is speaking of a spiritual hunger that lies within every human heart. Only God can restore what all our striving has depleted. “I am the true bread and without me and fresh fire in your soul, you will burn out and always be hungry for more.”

St. Augustine found out the hard way, as many us do, chasing after all those things that we think will satisfy and fill us up. Fill in your own blank: power, money, ambition, sex,“likes on social media.” Such can be like drinking salt water. The more we drink, the thirstier weget!

Jesus reminds us to stay humble when he points out that the gifts in life that we have received, enjoyed and the things we have accomplished are literally generated from the grace of God. “The manna you received from Moses in the desert, yes that too was a gift from God, our Father.”

We come around the table of the Lord with great appetites and we are very hungry. On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we still live in a world starved for peace. Jesus is saying: “I and my way of life is a pathway to that peace.” We sit at this table with hearts full of past mistakes and poor decisions and Jesus is saying: “I know that you are hungry

 

for forgiveness, and I am here to serve mercy and compassion.” Many of us are struggling in jobs that have us feeling overworked, anxious and unfulfilled and Jesus is aware of that hunger for more. He is offering us an opportunity to consider our state in life not so much as a job, but a vocation, a calling to serve others and be served by Him who satisfies like no other. Too much of life can be filled with superficial relationships, and Jesus sees our hunger for truth and genuine people who care and accept us for who we really are. I know you have family and friends who are sick and suffering and are hungry for healing and strength.

If life has left you hungry and humble today, Jesus says, “Good!” Stay on my team. Have a seat at my table. There is a standing reservation made especially for you here. I am the bread of life. The one who satisfies all. The one who soothes restless hearts. Let me feed you with something more than the world can offer you.Don’t be duped into settling for anything that is less that what I can offer you. Have a seat at my table, at the altar where I have sacrificed myselffor something more than me-You! “Come to me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I will give you rest.”

Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B -July 29, 2018

Readings

2 Kgs 4:42-44
Ps 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Eph 4:1-6
Jn 6:1-15

John F. McAtee, O.S.A.
Church of St. Mary Waterford, New York

How can so little suffice for so many? There are many times when I wished that I had more money to give to someone or in someway to give that person something which would be of value, but we are limited in what we can, because there is no time to prepare or opportunity to do more.

I remember one occasion when I had given money to a person and that person complained that the amount was not enough for what he needed. I explained that was all that I had and perhaps he could ask another person to help. He did not like that suggestion and continued to insist that I give him more. I was annoyed and felt like telling him off. But I once again said that was all the money I had to give, so please do what you can with that amount, and excused myself.

In the Gospel story Jesus provided the solution by performing a miracle. I cannot perform that kind of miracle or any other kind of miracle, but I thought that I did offer the possibility of a solution. I only hope that the person followed through and was able to get what he needed.

Obviously we cannot solve everyone’s difficulties, but it is necessary that we be open to reaching to do what we are able to do.

As fathers, mothers, friends, and relatives, there will be many impositions made on us, so it is important that we learn that there are many ways in which we can respond that are acceptable to the person making the request and to not overburdening ourselves.

 

How can so little suffice for so many? We would to be able to help others, but when we are sincere in our efforts to reach out, we must be aware of the limits of our own capabilities.

The people we are trying to help, not to please, will be able to accept what we are doing for them. The “little” that we are doing will suffice for them.

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Year B

One of these scenarios has happened to all of us:

• You keep your Saturday afternoon schedule clear so you can watch a baseball game.

• You shuffle the children off to their grandparents so you and your husband can have one dinner where no milk is spilled, no food goes airborne, and the conversation involves more than the latest adventures of “Dora the Explorer.”

• You finally find a few hours to start that book or watch that movie everyone has been recommending.

And then the phone rings.

Nativity of John the Baptist - Year B

As I was growing up in Puerto Rico, the celebration of John the Baptist took many different forms… but always brought us closer to water! In an island that is difficult to avoid! I remember going to celebrate the Eucharist right on the beach… that was the religious part! I also remember going to the river and even opening the fire hydrants on the streets… we just wanted to get wet as we remembered the Baptist…

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity - Year B

Rachel Carson, a famous author of a few years ago, was once quoted as follows:

1. When I look at the beauty of the world and see the mountains and the valleys, the ocean and the sky. I am reminded that I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.

2. When I read about bloodshed and violence and see murder and hatred, stress and strife, selfishness and phoniness. I am reminded that I believe in Jesus Christ who, for our sake. Was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

3. And when I feel the wind in my face and the freedom of the fresh country breeze, or a walk at sunset, I am reminded that I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life.


Fourth Sunday of Easter - Year B

When Jesus spoke to the people of his time, he used images with which they were quite familiar. In his day, anyone walking in the countryside could see shepherds watching over their sheep...In our day, I wonder what kind of an image today’s gospel brings up to our minds. For many, I’m sure, a sheep is some soft, wooly, cuddly animal–a fitting pet for someone like Little Bo Peep. Maybe some sheep are like that, but not all of them are. Here’s how I know.

Second Sunday of Easter - Year B

I have to be honest, I wasn’t entirely successful in my Lenten promises. I was hoping to enter Easter with a renewed sense of accomplishment. However, because of my missteps, and good intentions gone awry, I was confronted by what I could not do. I was humbled. I felt defeated ...but then I remembered a line from one of my favorite artists. In his song, Anthem, Leonard Cohen sings: There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.