The Sacrament of Love

July 26, 2018 - 3:30pm
Loaves And Fishes 2
Scripture Reflections for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When was the last time you experienced a situation in which you thought there was no solution?

Often we feel cornered by circumstances in life and think that there is no possible way out. And yet, miraculously, things end up working out for our  good. This week’s Gospel Reading highlights Jesus’s love for his people as he transforms five barley loaves and two fish into a feast for five thousand people. This week, let’s focus on the miracles that can happen when we place our trust in God. 

 

First Reading Reflection

2 Kings 4:42−44

 

This week’s reading comes from a chapter full of miracles: Elisha saving fatherless children from slavery, obtaining a child for a childless family and later raising that same child from the dead, and feeding people during a famine. In these situations, people appeal to the prophet begging for help, and he responds with compassion to their deepest needs. This sets the stage for the passage. 

The offering of bread brought to Elisha comes from the giver’s first fruits, calling to mind the offering of Abel. Elisha immediately gives the gift to the hungry people, even though it is not enough to feed such a large crowd, confident that the Lord will provide.

This story is an obvious foreshadowing of the miracle related in this week’s Gospel. It sheds light on the true purpose of our religious offerings: to glorify God and participate in his generosity. Set in the context of a famine, it also foreshadows the absolute necessity of the bread from Heaven, the Eucharist. We see that Elisha does not reserve something for himself, but gives all that he has received to his people, just as Christ does. 

 

Second Reading Reflection

Ephesians 4:1−6

 

While he is a “prisoner for the Lord,” Saint Paul tells us to “live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,” He has listened to that call, and it gives him hope and power; even in the midst of tremendous suffering.

As Saint Paul tells us, our Christian calling means that we look to the “one hope” of our call: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” But this call also means that we need to act here and now by living out the Trinitarian life we received through our baptism. Humility, gentleness, patience, love and peace: these virtues are the result of living in union with God and neighbor in the Mystical Body.

We are enabled to live this call through the sacraments, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist. In Reconciliation, we receive forgiveness and strength to persevere in virtue; in the Eucharist, we receive the very Person of Christ into our souls in order to “become Christ” to the world to the glory of the “one God and Father of all.”

 

Gospel Reading Reflection

John 6:1−15

 

St John’s account of this familiar miracle contains many significant fulfillments of Old Testament events. In this scene, we see elements of this week’s First Reading about Elisha, where he feeds many from a small amount of food. Another significant moment from the Old Testament that Jesus fulfills in this week’s Gospel is when Moses and the elders meet with God at the mountain to establish the Old Covenant.

Here, on the mountain, Jesus is preparing to teach about the New Covenant—which will culminate in the Eucharist. John provides a hint of this when he specifically mentions that there is a lot of grass. The Gospels are so brief that they often leave us begging for more details. So why would John bother to mention the grass? This short reference relates to Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” John is hinting that the Good Shepherd is about to feed the sheep.

However, when people recognize him as the “one who is to come,” Jesus withdraws by himself. The people are still confused about his kingship and need to see that this miracle is only a preparation for the true covenant meal that is to come. In fact, this great miracle serves as an introduction to the Bread of Life discourse about the Eucharist in John’s Gospel.

 

Discussion

 

To participate in the online discussion, please visit StMichael.FORMED.org and click on the “Community” tab.  There you can watch the short Opening the Word video reflection on today’s readings and post your comments to the following questions:

How has God answered your needs, even the ones you didn’t tell him you needed?

Is going to Mass every Sunday a priority for you? If it is not, what keeps you from going? If it is, do you really work to enter into the prayer of the Mass and realize the miracle happening before you, or do you become distracted and let your mind wander?

 

Digging Deeper

Keeping the Holy of Holies a Sacred Space

 

As Mass ends we often find ourselves  greeting  friends  and family around us. The Church community is a wonderful gift, and worshipping as the Body of Christ is very important. However, because Jesus is always present in the Tabernacle, we ought to reserve those conversations for outside of the sanctuary as a sign of respect and adoration for Christ’s presence. Practically speaking, it is also respectful of those still in the sanctuary wishing to pray quietly after Mass. In addition, when we enter and leave the sanctuary, we should genuflect and make the Sign of the Cross while facing the Tabernacle, acknowledging and adoring God present there. During Adoration, when the Eucharist is exposed on the Altar in a monstrance, it is appropriate to genuflect on both knees. All of these traditions honor Jesus Christ, present to us in the Eucharist.

 

The Four Senses of Scripture

 

Whenever we read a passage from Scripture, there are four different ways that it can be interpreted. The literal sense refers to “the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis” (CCC 116), or what the story means on the literal level. The allegorical sense looks at Scripture by recognizing its significance in Christ. For example, in this week’s Gospel, we looked at how Elisha’s miracle was a sign or type of the Eucharist. When we read Scripture in the moral sense, we look at how it is guiding us to act. Finally, the anagogical sense “view[s] realities and events in terms of their eternal significance” (CCC 117).

 

 

Reflections reprinted here with permission from Augustine Institute.

 

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