Pastoral Sharings: "Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for August 9, 2015

In the New Testament we often see two contrasting 
attitudes among the people. On the one hand they are the 
grateful recipients of Christ’s miracles and then on the 
other hand we find them grumbling and criticizing him.

There is a good example of this phenomenon in the Gospel readings during these last few weeks. The people are very grateful for the miraculous distribution of the loaves and the fishes in what we call the Feeding of the Five Thousand. But then when Jesus tries to explain the significance of this great miracle they start grumbling and criticizing.

This is not so different from the People of Israel in Old Testament times. They were extremely grateful for the miraculous gift of manna which was found lying on the ground every morning and which they could bake into bread. But the appearance of this food which sustained them through their long journey in the desert did not stop them from grumbling against God and even rejecting him on occasion.

We could probably say that these two attitudes are also alive and well in the world today. Yes, we are grateful for the works of God and the many gifts that he gives us but this does not stop us from frequently ignoring and even rejecting him.

We have an example of this behavior in the Gospel reading given for today. The people had gratefully received the loaves and the fish but now they grumble and complain when Jesus describes himself as the bread come down from heaven. To them these words smack of terrible heresy.

They know Jesus to be the son of Mary and Joseph and so they cannot comprehend how he can say that he has come down from heaven. Jesus simply tells them to stop complaining and continues his discourse; but this confuses them even more.

What Jesus is trying to do is to get them to understand the theology of the Eucharist. He wants them to see how he is really present in the Eucharistic elements; but his words fall on deaf ears because what he is telling them is so different to their ordinary experience that they cannot comprehend it.

Of course it is all the more confusing since we are still in the middle of the story. Christ has still a year to go before he makes his great sacrifice on the Hill of Calvary. They have no knowledge of the Last Supper or how the first Christians realized the significance of that solemn mean and made it the heart of their worship.

So we can excuse their incredulity at the extraordinary words of Jesus. We realize that these words are not so much addressed to them as addressed to us. It is we who need to understand precisely who Jesus is and what his relationship with the Eucharist is. It is we who need to grow in our appreciation of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

So maybe what we should really be doing today is not so much to think about the people of the New Testament but to think about ourselves and our own understanding of the Eucharist. We need to see if we have a good enough grasp of what the Church actually teaches in reference to it.

Superficially at a celebration of the Eucharist not a lot happens. Sure it is a solemn meal, the people are gathered, the scriptures are read and explained, ritualistic words are spoken by the priest, the bread and wine are shared and then with a blessing everyone goes home.

This is what the outsider, the non-believer, observes. But we, the faithful, we know different. We know that in celebrating this wonderful sacrament we are invisibly connected to the Last Supper.

It is as if time has collapsed at it is now us who are gathered together with the Apostles around the table of the Lord and that it is he who actually utters the words of consecration through his representative, the priest. And it is from him that we receive the Bread of Life and the Blood of our Salvation.

The elements we receive in the Eucharist are indeed real food and drink but because of their small quantity they are practically without any value as real food. But more importantly we understand that they are true spiritual food and through our reception of them we are drawn ever nearer to heaven.

We believe the words of the Lord Jesus that he is the Bread of Life and know that by consuming the Eucharistic bread and wine we are receiving Jesus himself.

By receiving Holy Communion at mass we are also drawn closer to one another; as a community we become more and more authentically the Body of Christ. We become the visible sign of the Kingdom of God present in our world. In this way we become an ever more effective witness to Christ for the people who live around us.

What all this tells us is that gathering to celebrate the mass is one of the most important things we can do. It is good for us in that it draws us ever closer to heaven and it is good for the world since its people, through our witness, become more aware of Christ and his transforming power.

We may not be brilliant Evangelists, we may not be persuasive speakers or powerful debaters but this does not stop us from being effective witnesses to Christ. The simple act of coming to mass on a Sunday is in itself a real witness to the values of the Kingdom of God.

Do not kid yourself that the people living in your road are unaware of where your family goes on a Sunday morning. They are there twitching their curtains and observing your family getting into the car and driving to St Joseph’s for mass. They may say nothing but you are making them think.

This might not seem like very much but as we know great works are often achieved by a series of very small acts. There are many other ways you give witness to the values of the Kingdom such as being known as a truthful person, or as someone who will not defame others, or as someone who will refuse to participate in a scam at work.

People see these things and take note of them. They know you stand for Christ and for his Gospel of love. They will not say it, but many of them secretly envy you.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
August 9, 2015

Nineteenth Sunday: John 6 Part 3: Food for the Journey

In today’s first reading we come upon the prophet Elijah, fleeing in the desert from the terrible Queen Jezebel.  Jezebel had sworn to kill Elijah in retaliation for Elijah’s killing the false prophets of Baal on Mt.  Carmel.  Elijah fled to the desert.  He would try to cross it.  He knew that the soldiers wouldn’t think he would go there.  No one could survive crossing the desert. That’s where we find Elijah in that first reading. Elijah had had enough.  He was out of food and water.  More than that, he just didn’t have the fortitude or the stamina to continue to do God’s work.  He laid down under that broom tree, and he said to God, “Look, I just can’t do this anymore.  I’m no better than anyone who has come before me.  I just can’t continue your mission to Israel.”  And he fell asleep, hoping to die.  But the angel of the Lord woke Elijah and gave him food and water.  Elijah fell asleep again, and again the angel of the Lord woke Elijah and told him to eat and drink.  And, the reading concludes with the nourishment the Lord provided, he walked forty days and forty night to the mountain of God Horeb..

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 6: 41–51

Gospel Summary

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (In John’s gospel, “Jews” is often a technical term meaning the religious authorities who are hostile to Jesus. Thus, for example, Jesus and his disciples, all Jews, would not be “Jews” in this restricted sense.) Those who were hostile to Jesus argued that he was from earth, not from heaven. Wasn’t he the son of Joseph? Jesus then proclaims that he is from heaven and that God is his Father. Further, he says that anyone who is taught by his Father and drawn to his Son will believe and have eternal life. Jesus then begins his discourse on the Eucharist: “I am the bread of life … whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—August 9, 2015

The Jews who followed Jesus after the feeding of the five thousand were looking for the Messiah—the New Moses who would again bring down bread from heaven. When they found that Bread, they grumbled. Why?

Gospel (Read Jn 6:41-51)

As we know from last Sunday’s Gospel, the Jews who had seen Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of hungry people strongly suspected that He was the Messiah—the “Prophet” Moses long ago had foretold that God would send. Jewish rabbinic tradition, by Jesus’ day, taught the Jews to expect with the Messiah a return of the manna, the “bread of angels” (see Ps 78:25). When they caught up with Jesus, they began angling to see if He would produce more miraculous bread as a sign that He was, indeed, the Messiah. If so, they wanted to proclaim Him king (see Jn 6:15).

The Holy Day and the Sacred Hour

“And so the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the furniture of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. And He blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:1-3).

The seventh day, the Sabbath. The holy day of the New Testament, however, is Sunday, the first day of the week.

Pope Francis on the Divorced and Remarried: 10 Things to Know and Share

Pope Francis recently gave a general audience in which he discussed the situation of those who have divorced and remarried without an annulment.

His remarks are particularly significant in light of the upcoming Synod on the Family and the proposals to give Holy Communion to those in this situation.

They also attracted attention because he stressed that people in this situation are not excommunicated.

Here are 10 things to know and share . . .

Consider Answering This Question of Jesus

In the midst of explaining a parable to the disciples, Jesus stopped and asked them a question:

“Do you understand these things?” (Mt. 13:52)

Now, rule number one in reading Scripture is  when Jesus asks a question, you answer it. You don’t keep reading to see how the Apostles or disciples answered it. You stop, put down the Bible, and answer it yourself.

How to Find Peace for a Troubled Heart

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:1-3).

On the occasion of the Last Supper, Jesus spoke these words to His Apostles—and to each of us. Jesus tells us that we should trust Him, have faith in Him, to place all our cares and anxieties on Him… “Do not let your hearts be troubled”—everything is going to be okay. He offers us a sanctuary in a world filled with danger.

In spite of these words directed lovingly from our God to each of us, many in the world today—and that might include you and me—have trouble really trusting in the Lord and His promise. Why is that?

Truth: A Tool For Caring

We each have things in life that drive us crazy and push us to the point of unpleasantness, if we allow our emotions to take control. I seem to be able to tolerate all sorts of behaviors from people, but I have developed a particular distain for lying. I don’t think anyone likes being lied to, but as I get older, and learn more how important truth is, as well as the Truth of my faith, I find myself more aware of lies. I am bothered when I have been subjected to lying.

18 Mother Angelica Quotes that Hit It Right on the Nose

Mother Angelica is probably the most famous religious sister in America: she founded EWTN and her shows were a favorite of Catholic audiences for years.

And as anybody who watched her knows, she certainly had a way with words! Here are 18 of her best quotes.

And while you enjoy reading her quotes, remember to say a prayer for her. She’s 92 years old and living out her final years in a cloistered monastery in Alabama.

Caring For Loved Ones is a Gift of Love, Wrapped in Thorns

Old people — and by that I mean very old people — are funny.

They’re not funny in the sense of laughs. They’re funny in the sense that you never know from one moment to the next what’s going to happen.

Caring for a two-year-old is a piece of the proverbial cake compared to caring for a 90-year-old with dementia. My family and I have been doing our best to care for my 90-year-old-two-year-old for years now.

Her dementia started when she was in her high 80s. It was a late-comer to the aging party, but once it arrived, it went through her brain like a laser, cutting away pieces with every pass. Dementia never stops taking. It is an aggressive and remorseless beast that slowly, but inevitably, lops off chunks of the person you love.

Where Does Faith Fit Into My Busy Life?

For years I have heard people say they don’t have enough time to pray, get involved in parish ministry, attend daily Mass, take part in Eucharistic adoration, be involved in children’s activities, serve in the community, etc.

I believe our misconception about time is one of the biggest obstacles, along with living in “silos” and failing to surrender to Christ, to leading an integrated Catholic life. As someone who is also challenged about having enough time each day, I wonder: Do we own our calendars or do our calendars own us? Are we willing to make the changes necessary to get back on track?

Why You Need Spiritual Food

Every third summer, the Catholic lectionary provides a series of readings for Sunday Mass from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. This is the magnificently crafted chapter in which the evangelist’s Eucharistic theology is most fully presented. It is a curiosity of John’s Gospel that the Last Supper scene includes no “institution narrative,” which is to say, the account of what Jesus did with the bread and cup the night before he died. But as many scholars have indicated, the Eucharist is a theme that runs right through the entirety of the Gospel and which finds richest expression in the famous chapter six.

How to Pray with a Toddler

Learning to pray together as a couple can be difficult, but learning to pray as a family with a small child is even harder. In the first year of our marriage, my wife and I struggled to figure out how to pray together. Though we’ve made some progress, especially since becoming Catholic, we are still learning. Since I’m sure that there are many couples just starting out like us, I want to share some lessons our family has learned to make prayer with a child more workable.

The Family That Prays Together Stays Together

The Family That Prays Together Stays Together. That was the message of Servant of God Patrick Peyton, the founder of Holy Cross Family Ministries who was best known as the “Rosary Priest.”
Just in time for the World Meeting of Families, Saint Benedict Press has released a new book chock-full of ideas and inspiration for parents who want to lead their families in prayer. The Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation authored the beautifully illustrated hardcover book, titled A Short Guide to Praying as a Family: Growing Together in Faith and Love Each Day.

Purgatory: Is It a Dead Issue?

So where is purgatory in the Bible anyway?  Glad you asked!
Let’s take a look at a few of the Scriptural references to Purgatory.  Let’s begin with Maccabees:
“He then took up a collection among all his soldiers, amounting to two thousand silver drachmas, which he sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection in mind; for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.”  [ 2 Maccabees 12:43-46]
Praying for the sins of the dead, it would seem, is very Jewish and very biblical.

Proved Historically Accurate Once Again. Goliath’s Gates Found

The gate of Gath, believed to be the home of the giant Goliath, has been discovered by archaeologists. I love this kind of story because I love it when the Bible is shown to have historical accuracies.
You might recall:

Nuns, Guns and the Wild West — the Extraordinary Tale of Sister Blandina

SANTA FE, N.M. — Billy the Kid, a notorious bank and stage-coach robber of the Wild West, met his match in the most unlikely of people when he met Sister of Charity Blandina Segale.
According to legend, and to Sister Blandina’s journal and letters, one of Billy the Kid’s gang members had been shot and was on the brink of death when the doctors of Trinidad, Colo., refused to treat him. Sister Blandina decided to take him in and cared for him for three months, nursing him back to health.

Allowing Sin and Allowing Suffering

There are two thoughts concerning imperfections and sin in a good Catholic. The prevailing idea of Garrigou-Lagrange and some of the saints, including St. John of the Cross, is that one can move away from venial sin, overcome imperfections, and even transcend concupiscence, with the help of God’s grace.

Some priests today believe that it is possible to stop sinning venially and even move from being tempted by certain things through purification of the mind, memory, understanding and imagination, so that one is practically free of concupiscence.

However, some saints, in particular, St. Teresa of Avila, believe that one sins venially until death.

Some saints believe temptation is a trial of greatly virtuous people.

The Fire Next Time: A Meditation on the Glance of God from the Fiery Cloud

As we read through the Book of Exodus in daily Mass at this time of year (16th Week of the year) there comes the passage about the crossing of the Red Sea. As God parted the waters, He went on ahead of the people in the fiery column of His presence. And describing the Egyptians pursuit of the Israelites is this passage:

In the night watch just before dawn
the LORD, through the column of the fiery cloud,
cast a glance upon the Egyptian force that threw it into a panic; (Ex 14:25)

A Guide to the Restoration of Marriage

As you may have heard, marriage is in a bad way. Supporters of procreative marriage are increasingly pressured to abandon their views, while liberals busily debate whether they should follow up on their recent victory by “expanding” marriage further or just by abolishing it altogether. Over here in the land of the still-sane, we’re in the thick of a frantic brainstorming session. Is there still a way to preserve this essential social institution? Can we keep the bottom from falling out entirely?

A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

It sounds like a pro-life slogan. In fact, it’s just a line from Dr. Seuss’ 1954 classic, Horton Hears a Who! In the story, an unsuspecting elephant is bathing himself when he hears a cry. The cry is originating from a speck, which turns out to be an entire planet of tiny people floating about vulnerably and desperately seeking protection. Though they shout at the top of their lungs, they are not heard. Horton, just a clumsy elephant, becomes their advocate, and quickly becomes the most loathed animal in the jungle.

Are All Christians Saints?

In Colossians 1:1-2, St. Paul says:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

The question is: why do Catholics only refer to canonized “saints” in heaven as “saints” when St. Paul seems to refer to all Christians as “saints”?

Five Tips for Handling Criticism

My first boss at Catholic Answers, Jan Wakelin, told me during my first week on the job that everything would be different going forward. “You’re a public figure now, Patrick,” she said. I was slow to understand what she meant.

But she was right. In previous career iterations, whether I performed impressively or poorly, very few people found out about it. Hosting a very popular live radio show with an international audience is a very different animal.

Faith Comes Through Hearing – As Seen in a Beautiful Video

Below is a touching video of a hearing-impaired infant who, after being fitted with a hearing aid, hears the voices of his parents for the very first time. Initially, the child fidgets, afraid of what is happening. But as the voices of his parents reach his soul, a smile of joy and recognition blossoms on his face.

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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