Pastoral Sharings: "Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

 

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for August 2, 2015

Today we continue with our meditation on the Eucharist as presented to us in the Gospel of John. As a preamble we are given an extract from the Book of Exodus which tells us about the Manna that God gave to the People of Israel to sustain them on their journey through the desert of Sinai.

From the perspective of today we can easily see how this Manna given in the desert is a foreshadowing of the bread of the Eucharist.

The people were starving and starting to regret that they had come on this long journey through the desert. They complained to Moses who told them that God would send them quails in the evening and manna in the morning and that this would prove that he was the Lord.

This food from heaven proves to be a great blessing for the People of Israel and it sustains them on their forty-year long journey through the Sinai Desert.

In the Gospel reading Jesus has withdrawn from the people whom he had fed with the five loaves and two fish. But they encounter him again at Capernaum and wonder how he got there. Jesus then tells them that they are looking for him not so much because they believe in him but because he had satisfied their hunger.

Perhaps a little confused by these words the people ask Jesus how they might believe and follow God’s will. But then they fall into an old trap and start justifying themselves and begin to tell the old story of the manna their fathers ate in the desert, as if this was something of their own doing. They then get bolder and start to challenge Jesus asking him for a sign as if the great miracle he had performed the previous day was of no significance.

The people having been the recipients of the miraculous distribution of the loaves and the fishes now seem to want Jesus to repeat this miracle perhaps thinking that they might never have to work for food again. But Jesus helps them to understand that this was not the purpose of his miracle; he tells them that he was not there to provide them merely with bodily food but rather with spiritual food, food from heaven as he says.

It is this spiritual food that is far more important than any earthly nourishment because it feeds and sustains the soul, the spiritual side of man. This spiritual food sustains man on his pilgrimage through this world and ultimately leads him to eternal life in the next world.

Jesus then tells them something even more astounding, that it is actually he who is the Bread of Life; he challenges them to believe in him thus paving the way for the far greater miracle of the Eucharist that he was going to celebrate a year later on the night before he died.

Actually when we look even more carefully at this passage we begin to discern that there are two groups of people present. First there are the ordinary people, the ones who follow Jesus around and who hang on his words. They perceive Jesus to be a wonderworker and perhaps even the Messiah, but ultimately they are not quite sure what to make of him and so they follow him around seeing what he will do next.

Essentially these ordinary people are passive and tend to wait to see how things will develop. They refrain from passing judgment on Jesus and instead they welcome his teaching and are in awe of his miracles.

Then there is another more vociferous group who are presumably the leaders of the people. These ones are more interested in tripping Jesus up and in justifying their own position. They are much trickier to deal with and do not seem to believe in Jesus or in the efficacy of his miracles.

We see these two groups in society today. One group who are quiet and who wait and watch to see what happens, and then another group who criticize and want only to justify themselves.

The first group represents the vast mass of the people. Ordinarily they don’t think much about spiritual things and need to be jogged out of their complacency from time to time.

They are a quite good bunch on the whole although not switched on to the spiritual life; but a miracle or an extraordinary preacher can get their attention and persuade them to be more open to the spiritual world.

Then there is the other group. These are the critics, the militant atheists, the ones who are always looking to put down the things of God. They have no time for religion but instead of being satisfied with letting it die out, as according to them it must, they feel the need to do everything they can to stamp out all signs of faith and belief in God.

There are plenty of this sort of people in the media and in society at large, and it is noticeable that they are increasing in number. I don’t think that we should waste our time with this lot; as with the Pharisees in the time of Jesus they won’t listen to us and their chief concern is to obliterate all signs of true religion.

The first group, however, are much easier to deal with. Essentially they are open to the message of Christ if only someone will draw it to their attention. It is with this group that we will be able to make the most progress. They are open to talking about God but they won’t raise the topic themselves.

Pope Francis is telling us that we need to be better Evangelists. What he means is that we should engage with this group of people, we should be unafraid to talk to them about God and matters spiritual. If we do this in a respectful and gentle way we might be surprised that the positive reception we get.

Jesus says at the end of today’s text, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.” This is the very message that these people want to hear. This is the message that should be on our lips as we seek to engage them in dialogue.

They want to know that with Jesus they will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty again. They want to know that he is indeed the Bread of Life and that it is only through him that we will attain eternal life.
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Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
August 2, 2015

Eighteenth Sunday: John 6 Part 2:

Wat Is the Food We Are Looking For?

The people in today’s Gospel reading had to work hard to find Jesus.  After the multiplication of the loaves and fish, last Sunday’s reading, John says that the disciples took a boat to cross the sea, probably the Sea of Galilee.   Jesus was not in the boat with them.  The people must have realized that.  But as they looked and looked for Jesus, they could not find Him on their side of the shore.  Finally, someone came up with the idea of going to where His disciples were.  Perhaps they would know where He was. That meant crossing the sea themselves. This would be difficult, but they thought it would be worthwhile to learn where Jesus was.  After all, this Jesus gave away free food. As you know, they were surprised to find that Jesus was with the disciples.  He had walked out to his disciples’ boat, walking on the water.  That’s why the people asked Jesus, “When did you get here?”  Jesus didn’t answer their question.  Instead, He commented on why they were looking for Him.  They wanted more loaves and fish, and put themselves out to get it.

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Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 2: Faith

Message: To have a relationship with Jesus requires faith: God’s great work and our response of trust.

You may have heard the saying, “Give a dog a good name and he will live up to it.” My previous dog I named “Samwise” because that Lord of the Rings character saved Frodo’s life. Sam didn’t literally save my life, but he was a darn good companion. My new dog I named “Eowyn” hoping she would be brave like that noble shieldwoman. So far my Eowyn is a timid creature, but I have faith.  

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Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—August 2, 2015

The people who saw Jesus miraculously multiply loaves and fishes tracked Him down afterwards, looking for something. What was it?

Gospel (Read Jn 6:24-35)

St. John tells us that after Jesus fed a hungry crowd with very little food, the people who had been with Him were eager to see Him again. After a brief interlude (see Jn 6:16-24), they found Him, yet they tried to act nonchalant by asking Him, “When did You get here?” Remember, these were the people who had exclaimed, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” (see Jn 6:14) and whom Jesus suspected of wanting to make Him king (Jn 6:15). They were anything but nonchalant.

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Seeing God in Creation

The first way of learning to live with God so as to love Him dearly is to elevate the mind to Him through the visible things around us. Wherever we go, God is there: “If I ascend into Heaven, Thou art there. If I descend into hell, Thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.”

Whatever we look at, God is within it. Look at the sun. It brings light and warmth into our life. It reflects the goodness of God, who has created it. Gaze at the moon and the stars. They are the lanterns placed by God in the heavens to guide the weary traveler. Bless God who has made them, for the heavens and earth are full of His glory: “Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it: it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasseth the heaven about with the circle of its glory; the hands of the Most High have displayed it.”
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10 Ways to Grow in Friendship with Jesus and Mary

The ultimate purpose of our life is to grow to know, love and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who said that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is the real purpose of our existence. He gives meaning to all that happens in our lives—our joys and sorrows, successes and failures our life and death. Our Lady is always close to Jesus. The saints emphasize that Our Lady is the short-cut to the heart of God.

The following are ten short suggestions how we can grow daily in Friendship with Jesus and Mary His Mother so as to be happy in this life as well as the life to come!

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A Most Difficult Question to Answer

When I give talks around the country or sometimes in correspondence with readers of my books or blog posts on Integrated Catholic Life, I am often asked what I mean when I encourage others to “be joyful” and share the “light of Christ” with others.  I am referring to the response I typically give when asked for effective ways to share our Catholic faith at work and in the public square.  I sometimes get strange and curious looks.  “Surely, there is more to it than that,” they might be thinking or “Well, I wanted the 10 step plan, but I guess I can try this,” may cross their minds.

I share these basic concepts with good reason.  Do you recall Christ’s teaching in the Gospel of Matthew:  “You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father”  (Matthew 5:13-14, 16).  Do we really share our Christ-inspired joy with others?  Are we the light of Christ to everyone we encounter?

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Combating Your Personal Stress

Recently I conducted a survey of my book and article readers. I wanted to know how this largely Catholic and professional group viewed current stressors in their lives. When asked what they considered to be a personal struggle, the top three answers were:

      1. Feeling overwhelmed/out of balance
      2. Fighting effects of stress and anxiety
      3. Wanting a more productive prayer life

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Turn Your Anger at God to Praise

Many people get angry at God when things go wrong in their lives. “God, how could you let this happen? I thought you were supposed to be so good!” Does God let bad things happen in our lives? Yes, in a sense, he does. It’s what we might call his permissive, or reluctant, will. He does not want terrible things to happen to us, but his agenda is not of this world.

Everything that he permits to happen is for some greater good, some eternal good. If the only thing that mattered was for things to turn out well in this life, we might have a case against God when tragedies occur. But, it is the eternal good that matters, and that’s virtually impossible for us to figure out.

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Three Words That Can Change Your Life

Sometimes we like to complicate things. Every now and again it is good to simplify, to make it plain and simple. The other day it occurred to me that three words describe the well-being I have discovered in my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. They are, respectively, move, breathe, and trust.

Let’s look at each in turn. “Move” pertains to the physical, “breathe” to the emotional and psychological, and “trust” to the spiritual.

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The Life of Love

Presence of God – Grant, O Lord, that even while I am here on earth, I may love You as I shall love You in heaven.

MEDITATION

If it may be said that by faith “eternal life begins in us” (St. Thomas, Summa, IIa IIae, q.4, a.1, co.), the same may be said–and with greater reason–of charity, which will remain unchanged even in heaven. Eternal life will be essentially a life of love, of love which has reached its greatest height, for when we know God perfectly by the beatific vision, we shall finally be able to fulfill with absolute perfection the precept of loving God with all our strength. On this earth such perfection is possible only relatively; nevertheless, even now we possess the same charity with which we shall love God in heaven.

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The Two Things Man Was Supposed to Do in Eden

There were two things Adam was supposed to do in the Garden of Eden.

Given that this was the terrestrial paradise—Eden could be translated as delight or pleasure—one might think Adam was meant to relax and take it easy.

But that’s not quite what Genesis 2:15 tells us: ‘The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.’ That’s the New American Bible translation. A traditional rendering is ‘till and keep.’

Till and keep. That doesn’t sound like stuff you’d have to do in place called the Garden of Delights.

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Art and Ideals of a Culture

The arts are as important to education as math, science and language. In many ways the arts are a language capable of expressing the inexpressible human heart or the beauty of the world.

The arts can express the dignity and worth of man and glorify God; this is art in its highest form.

The arts can keep ideals alive, reclaim lost ideals, or develop new ideals within a culture that eventually permeate civilization (either for good or bad).

King David was a musician and poet. He sang:

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The Family Fully Alive in Faith

Family life today is both changing and being changed by the society in which it lives.

But nothing can be more satisfying and fulfilling than the love, respect, consideration and security found within a happy family. A family is where we learn and grow and become the special people God created us to be. The family is called to live out this vocation in a “domestic church,” a community of life and love, with each member helping each other to get to heaven.

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Keeping Faith While Grieving

I am hoping that writing this article will be therapeutic for me. I could not write at all for a few weeks. My twenty-year-old nephew was killed in an accident in June. He was an only child, and it has shocked and devastated our family. My brother is filled with pain, and I cannot help him. I have never known grief like this; it has engulfed me and I am too weak to fight. My waking hours are filled with thoughts of him, and I can only imagine what my brother and his wife are feeling.

I know that my nephew is with God.

So…is grief a selfish emotion? I have turned to the Bible during this difficult time, and my favorite verse is Romans 8:18:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

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What Can We Do To Combat Satan’s Influence?

The Devil made his public appearance this past weekend as the Satanic Temple of Detroit unveiled their nine-foot-tall, 2,000-pound bronze statue during a hedonistic party at the Lauhoff Corporation building on July 25. This public display even required participants to literally sign a document thatgave their soul to the devil. Needless to say, the organizers of the event didn’t want any Christians infiltrating their revelry.

What occurred at the unveiling party is unmentionable and was attended by more than 400 participants. Tickets were required for the event and attendees could even pay extra to get an up-close view of the statue. To combat the devil’s influence, a local group of Catholics circled the site with a six-foot-tall bronze statue of St. Michael the Archangel and continually prayed the St. Michael prayer.
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The Priest’s “Secret” Prayers at Mass

Did you know that the Church gives priests celebrating the Mass several prayers to say in a low voice, such that few (if any) in the church hear them? These are called the “secret” prayers (from the Latin word for “hidden.”) May the great beauty of these prayers inform and inspire your own devotion at Holy Mass.

The priest, before proclaiming the Gospel, pauses in front of the altar to bow and pray:

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10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong at Mass

Maybe it’s because we’ve just adopted these habits, maybe we’re just lazy…let’s take a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at some common practices that may need correction during the Holy Mass. Here are 10 things you might be doing wrong at mass.

1. Changing posture early

Seriously, what’s the deal? Why can’t we just wait ’til we actually finish the Sanctus before kneeling? Do you love kneeling that much? Do you think being the first person to sit will get you a prize? “Hey Bill, what’s that medal for?”  “Well, I sat the fastest after the collect at a mass back in ’85”  Yeah, not gonna happen.  Let’s make a point to do things together next time. Cool? Cool.

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Hermits and Holiness

                         Solitude for the Sake of the Church
In Slinger, Wis., Sister Joseph Marie of the Trinity leads a simple, separated life of prayer.

She is a hermit, a particular religious vocation that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (920) describes as “a call to find in the desert, in the thick of the spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.”

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Whatever Happened to Purgatory?

Have you noticed how many Catholics seem to have forgotten purgatory?

When a loved one dies they say, “Aunt Hilda has gone to be with the Lord” or “Daddy is in heaven now.” or they comfort the bereaved by saying, “George is with his beloved Gladys now.” or at Catholic funerals the preacher consoles the loved ones with talk about the departed being in heaven now.

This isn’t Catholic. It’s Protestant.

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Yes, You CAN Raise Faithful Kids!

What are your chances of raising faithful kids? Answer these 5 questions.
For the Catholic parent, there is no more important task than communicating our faith to our children. That doesn’t just mean teaching our kids Catholic prayers and rituals. It means teaching them how to have a meaningful and personal relationship with God. How to think and act morally. How to love rightly and intimately. How to celebrate and live life as the gift that it is meant to be. And, ultimately, how to be saints — living witnesses to a life of grace.

As critical as this mission is, it’s understandable that many parents feel overwhelmed about the undertaking. Fortunately recent studies examining how faith is transmitted through family life is taking some of the mystery out of the process. Answer the following questions to see how effectively you are sharing the faith in your home.
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How Huckleberry Finn Lives Moral Excellence in a Violent World

How does one live in the world but not be of the world? How does one grow up in a lawless society exposed to injustices in vicious forms and still preserve one’s innocence and integrity? How does a person live in the midst of murderers, swindlers, scoundrels, and bigots and not fall into temptation?

How does one live with a pure, kind heart while noticing the many cruelties inflicted by hard, cold hearts? How does one pursue a heroic, noble life in a culture of cowards, dupes, and sentimentalists who lack moral courage and manly honor?

Huckleberry Finn’s moral excellence transcends the mediocrity of worldly standards that lower man to a creature of conventions, a member of a mob, or an apathetic “average man.”
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A Meditation on the Swift Brevity of Life, as Seen in a Video

The short video below shows the span of one woman’s life, some seventy years in less than two minutes. How quickly she moves through the stages of her life, from infancy to her golden years!

My mind drifted back to a photo album my father once assembled not long before his death. In the frontispiece he inscribed a passage from Psalm 103:

          But as for man, his days are like the grass,
          or as the flower of the field.
          The wind blows and he is gone,
          And his place never sees him anymore.
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‘Would you like a free rosary?’

Through simple invitation, street evangelists find powerful key in bringing people back to Christ

Just three years ago, Steve Dawson took an idea and ran with it.

It was a simple idea, based on a simple concept: Spread the Gospel by going out and talking to people about it.

It was so simple, in fact, it was brilliant.
In just three short years, St. Paul Street Evangelization has gone from a seed of an idea to a multi-national evangelization apostolate with teams in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and even the Philippines. Their mission? Spread the Gospel through non-confrontational, face-to-face contact, usually with passers-by on a street corner.
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Real Men Love Babies

Do real men love babies? Everything about these pooping, screaming, totally helpless little people—the babies, that is—challenges a man’s feral instincts and refined sensibilities. Yet, whether we like it or not, babies put to rest the frenzied individualism, the restless search for purpose, and the demand for instant ego gratification so predictable among the male sex. Fatherhood is an invitation to grow up faster than most of us want, and maybe this is a tiny clue as to why for men babies are so scary.
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Good Reads Before School’s Back in Session

Children’s Book Picks for Summer

Summer vacation is a great time for kids to lay aside textbooks and enjoy a bit of well-earned rest and relaxation.

However, it’s also a perfect time to dive into summer reading — to get lost in books for the sheer joy of it. These titles offer a jumping-off point for summer readers, a mix of engaging stories and spiritual reading to keep kids inspired during the dog days of summer.
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