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Contents: Volume 2 - The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 25th, 2021

 

The

17th

Sunday

(B)


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Sun. 17 B 2021

The Gospel story tells us that Jesus fed the vast crowd of at least 5000 men with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish belonging to a boy. It is know as the multiplication of loaves and fish. What exactly did Jesus do to "distribute them" that he had premeditated beforehand?

We read/hear that there were twelve wicker baskets with left over fragments after all the people "had their fill". Does that mean Jesus himself multiplied the food or does it mean that he encouraged all those people to share what they had brought with those who might not have anticipated being hungry by beginning the distribution himself? Does it really matter what kind of a miracle it was?

Either way, it was a miracle. Either way hungry people were fed physically and spiritually by Jesus' actions. Either way, because of the sign he had done, people recognized him as "the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."

This miracle prefigures the Eucharist of today. Jesus feeds us physically and spiritually Himself with his Body and Blood. Jesus encourages us to share all that we receive with others, those who are unprepared or needy in some way.

Jesus did not want to be king. He wanted to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life for us. Will we let Jesus feed us so we can feed others in His Name?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Seventeenth Sunday of Ordered Time July 25, 2021

2nd Kings 4:42-44; Responsorial Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-4; Gospel Acclamation Luke 7:18; John 6:1-15

So, what’s going on? We are in the year of Mark’s gospel and here suddenly, on the seventeenth Sunday of ordered time, we’re taking the gospel from John. Why this sudden change of plans? Why this messing with our minds? Most likely, the vast majority of the assembly gathered this week-end throughout the world won’t notice this change. However, we should take note of it because it is out of what we should expect.

When people my age were little, the movie theaters would run a serial before the main feature. Typically, it would move a story line just a bit and end leaving us wondering what would come next. It was a way of getting us back to the theater the following week-end to see how the story ended – well not ended but moved to the next crises. In a way, that is how the liturgy of the Word is put together. Each week’s gospel in the liturgical year leads to the following week’s gospel. It’s how we build a house that becomes for us a home. It’s a place where we are welcomed, where we are respected and loved. It’s a place were we are offered healing and nourishment and support during our battles with the world. In this respect we should hear in our hearts Jesus’ advice that we build our home on solid rock. If we opt to build our home on sand, the first wind, the first conflict, the first disrespect, the first lie that strikes at our home will knock us off our foundations. The first time we encounter liars, charlatans, snake-oil salesmen, autocrats who in fact capture power by dividing us our timbers begin to shake and fall in on us. We turn to violence, hatred, and pursuit of matters that don’t really have substance. Those siren singers bring our home to the brink of destruction as those songs of wealth, power, and status lack sustaining substance. They are sand that easily erodes and threatens our home, our very substance as persons. We need a solid foundation that can hold in the face of the ways of the world.

Last week we heard how Jesus is the good shepherd whose voice we hear. The sheep hear his voice and follow after him. He leads them to pastures of plenty and of fresh, flowing water. This Sunday we learn just what those pastures and streams are about. Jesus takes the apostles out into a desert place, a place without distractions, a place without crowds. There they can rest and think about the events of their living since they began following Jesus and learning from him. There they can think about the that Jesus heals and releases captives from their addictions.

The crowd cannot get enough of Jesus. They look for him so they can be where he is. They seek him to learn, to be healed, to be liberated from the bondages of addiction. Addiction is what sin does to us – enslaves us and robs us of our home.

John adds a strange note at the beginning of this selection. "The Jewish feast of Passover was near." Why does John tie this event to Passover? Passover for the Jew is the celebration of liberation from Pharaoh. In the Passover story, it is Pharaoh who is the slave master. Why does the book of Exodus omit his name? Truly the Hebrew people would have know it. The name isn’t important to the story. What is important is that Pharaoh stands for slavery. Under Pharaoh’s autocratic leadership, the Hebrews were forced labor to serve the power, the wealth, and the status of the Pharaoh. As slaves, the Hebrew peoples in Egypt were merely loosely knit tribes. After Passover, the People spent forty years wandering, trying to discover who they were as a nation. They were building a house, a home where each person in each tribe belonged. It was a home providing a place to live a full and complete life. That was the vision, that was the hope of a Promised Land.

In Sunday’s gospel from John, a large crowd of five thousand men and uncounted women and children, came out to hear Jesus and be healed and liberated. There was a great deal of grass in that place. So, it was not a barren, wasteland. It was a place of great fertility and place where people could sit without briars, stones, or brambles. In other accounts of this miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus first preaches to the crowd. Then he feeds them. He takes a little bit from a boy, an insignificant person and makes a lot of it. Perhaps here is a quick lesson for us. God can work wonders with just a little bit from us.

What does this mean for us? What can we take from this story and the story of Elisha from the Second Book of Kings? In our Christian/Catholic faith tradition we understand that we become part of the crowd, a member of the assembly by an initiation of water. We come with the intention of a change of heart – what the Baptist preached as repentance. Even when infants are baptized, parents and sponsors come and profess repentance, of a turning away from the ways of the world, for their children. We become a member of the Assembly, what we commonly call the Church by this Baptism, this initiation rite. Please remember that church in this context is less about the institution than it is about those of us who are called together in the name of the Christ. St. Paul names that assembly the Body of Christ. He says in this Sunday’s selection from the letter to the Ephesians "I… urge you in a manner of the call you have received… bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit."

We are called together for the purpose of growing in love for one another to attain unity, the unity that is the Body of the Christ and the energy of the Spirit. We are, first of all provided with the Word of God in three readings, followed by an explanation of those readings by a homilist. It is as though we are being prepared, asked to recline on the grass to be fed. Just as the loaves and fishes were collected from the boy, so also from each of us is collected our works, our sufferings, our joys, and our dreams. For most this amounts to a gift of money. But from each of us – at offertory time – we are to at least mentally, spiritually offer the events, the trials, the loving, and the difficulties of the week. Those are placed on the altar with the gifts. IT IS THOSE OFFERINGS THAT THE PRESIDER CALLS UPON THE SPIRIT OF GOD – THAT THIRD PERSON OF THE TRINITY – TO TRANSFORM INTO THE BODY AND BLOOD OF THE CHRIST. Just as five barley loaves – these are not the finest wheat, but the much cheaper barley – are collected from the boy along with a hand full of fish, these feed and nourish a crowd of at least five thousand men and likely an equal number of women and probably double that in children.

That is our communion – that is the bread and wine that come from our efforts, our labors and are transformed into the Body and Blood of the Christ. That is the food that stiffens the beams of our home, that fortifies our foundations, that allows us to open our doors in fellowship with strangers, relatives, neighbors, and even those who are difficult for us.

It is fortunate that the Church has made our liturgies of the Word like the serial story at the theater of old. If we come to understand that, there will be an urgency to our coming back to the assembly each week. We need to hear more. We need to be healed again and again from the darts and arrows of misfortune and the abrasiveness of our economic, social, and political movements. Those movements foster distrust, encourage conflict, and foment and fabricate lies for the worldly gain of some.

We are the People of God. We are the People who encourage and grow that Kingdom that Jesus came to establish and grow. In our personal growth we build a mansion that is fortress, place of rest, gathering place for those who seek healing, encouragement, and celebration.

Let us come to the table of the Lord knowing that the Spirit takes our common work, our daily joys and sorrows, and transforms them. In that transformation, all are lifted up as the Lord was lifted up at Resurrection. In that all is transformed into the longed-for Kingdom of God.

I’m been told this is the first ever Grandparents day. Remember kindly your ancestors and all the aged whose work and efforts have changed our world – mostly for the better.

Grandma Carol and Grandpa Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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GIVING OUR ALL WITH TRUST: 17TH SUNDAY B

You’ve probably seen that ad on TV that says, ‘from little things big things grow.’ It’s true. A little can go a long way. That is to say, a little in the right hands can go a long way. That's what we notice in today's story about Jesus. Five barley bread rolls and two small pickled fish, in the hands of Jesus, go to feed five thousand men, plus many more women and children.

The principle still holds that a little can go a long way. Let me tell you a story about this that comes from Florida in the United States. It's about a woman called Sue and a man called Tony.

One Saturday morning Sue was roaming through the crowd at a garage sale when she noticed a young black man looking at her intently. Catching her eye, he came up to her with an air of hesitancy and hope. 'Mrs. Lester?' he asked. 'Yes?' replied Sue, wondering how he knew her name.

'Mrs. Lester,' he went on. 'I was hoping so much that I would see you when I came back to Florida.' Then he poured out his story. Years before, Tony had been a student where Sue was a teacher (and still taught). The school was 'the end of the road' on the socio-economic scale. As the locals put it, if the kids didn't make it there, the next stop was a prison. Tony himself came from a poverty-stricken and dysfunctional home. The one bright spot in his life was the kindness and encouragement shown to him by his teacher Mrs. Lester.

He said to Sue: 'Day after day when everybody else was telling me I was stupid and bad, you would sit me down in your office and say: "Tony, you can do anything you want with your life if you set your mind to it." You even invited me and some of the other kids into your home. By the way, do you still have that blackboard with the colored numbers in your garage...?'

Tony had returned to Florida after recently graduating from the University of Michigan and was soon to start work as the business manager of a reputable firm. The surprise reunion between teacher and former student continued in the middle of the garage sale, with Sue inviting Tony to come back to his old school to tell his story to the students there.

In our story about Jesus today, he is the number one hero, always concerned about the needs of others. He quickly notices that the people around him are desperate for something to eat, and right away he does something practical about it. But the second hero after Jesus himself is surely the small boy. After all, whose bread did Jesus multiply? Whose fish did he divide and share? None other than those of that small boy, who had only a little to offer, but who gave all he had. And in what the child gave, Jesus found the materials of a miracle.

Both stories tell the same truth. To make a difference to others, to bring meaning and hope and care into their lives, we need to bring them all the gifts we've got. We need to share who we are and what we have, with that unselfish love, gentleness, patience, and peace, named in our Second Reading. And we need to do that in the name of Jesus, who takes every good deed done to our fellow human beings as done to him in person.

Yes, dear People of God, a little in the right hands, given in the right spirit, can go a very long way indeed. It can even contribute to the making of that better world, which was the dream of Jesus. The dream he shared when he came into Galilee preaching and teaching about remaking this rough-tough world into the kingdom of God, God’s kind of world!

So, whenever you and I are more concerned to get than to give, and whenever we are asked to give something, that we hesitate to give, let us think of the generosity of that small boy. And in our holy communion with Jesus today, let us ask him to help us 'to give our all', by sharing with others our daily bread, and anything and everything else that counts as personal resources. And always with faith and trust that Jesus our number one hero will receive and bless our efforts in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year B: 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"[They] filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves."

Real hunger is not when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from; it is when you don’t know whether there will be another meal at all. That is the hunger that a thousand million people in our world experience every day. I have only known that sort of hunger once in my life. I never want to experience it again.

Whenever Jesus encounters people in the gospel, he responds to their deepest need - their greatest hunger. He always gives people what they need - sometimes it’s also what they want and sometimes it isn’t. Today, in this gospel, it is their hunger for bread. And it is because they are so satisfied with the bread he gives that they want to make him King, not only of their country, but of their lives. And that is the way, we believe, Jesus wants to feed each of us - to fill our own deepest needs.

Some years ago, I knew a young woman, a teacher, whose dearest wish in life was to be married and to have a large family. However, her first problem was that she couldn’t find a "good man". Apparently there is a widespread shortage of "good" men. There are lots of men around, but apparently not many "good" men. But, eventually, when she was 32, she found a possible candidate. After only two years of courtship, agonized decision–making and huge telephone bills, they were married and settled down to live happily ever after.

But, after three years of marriage, she discovered that she could not have a child. It was a shattering blow for her. She had a long series of medical tests which were painful, unpleasant and expensive and which confirmed that she would never be able to have a child.

She was shattered. She thought long and hard about killing herself. But she decided that if God had given her Life, He must have done so for a Reason. Desperately, she wanted to know what that Reason was and how she could fulfill it.

She was so depressed that she had to stop work and go back to her home in her home country for a long holiday. There she was appalled and shocked by the number of homeless children in the streets, either abandoned by their parents or orphaned, often because their parents had died of AIDS.

She came back to Britain and her good paying job, yet remained distraught that she, with all her love to give, had not been given a child, while so many children of her own people in her own home town, had no-one to care for them. She was so angry with God that she lost her Faith, or so she thought.

But it was not until a full year later that the penny dropped. And she and her husband returned permanently to her home country to found an orphanage. I heard from her recently. She wrote: "I thank my God that he did not give me only one child; he gave me a whole orphanage."

At Tiberias, there were twelve baskets left over. God always gives not just enough, but much more. Sometimes when our ambitions are not fulfilled, maybe it is because they are not big enough for God. God’s hopes for us are always greater than our hopes for ourselves.

Let us pray that we will open our mouths and our hearts and have the Lord fill them.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in the Goodness of God.

Paul O’Reilly, SJ. <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John Boll OP
 


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