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Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year C

Posté par diaconos le 17 février 2022

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#  One of the main laws of Judaism is to love the Lord « with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength ». Another commandment concerning love is you shall love your neighbour as yourself. Judaism distinguishes three types of love: physical, charitable and spiritual. Physical love is manifested in the Creation story where Eve is born from a rib of Adam. Christianity defines itself as the religion of the Incarnate Word and of revealed love.

Christian revelation is based on this : God is Love (1 Jn4, 8,16). This statement constitutes the heart of the Christian discourse on God. God interpreted as love; this is the Christian idea. According to Laurent Gagnebin, in religions in general, God is first and foremost understood as a terrifying, fearsome God, far removed from the God of love revealed by Jesus Christ and which still characterises the whole of Christianity today.

For some, love of neighbour is defined as an inner force that drives a human being to seek peace and share it with others. The desire for love is expressed in the desire to be with the other(s), to accept to receive and to give, to dialogue, to live with, to understand, to accompany, etc. According to Saint Paul: « If I have no love, I am nothing. Love is patient, it is full of kindness; love is not envious, it does not boast, it is not puffed up with pride. It does not do anything dishonest. It does not seek its own interest, it is not angry, it does not suspect evil.

He does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It excuses all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never dies. The love of which Christianity speaks is sometimes called charity (from the Latin caritas), a term which distinguishes it from erotic love or friendship, and which, in its original religious sense, has a transcendent dimension. It does not depend on feeling, but on the will40 in connection with the intelligence.

 Benedict XVI proclaims : « Only in truth does love shine forth and can it be lived with authenticity. In Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism (Vietnamese Buddhism, Chan, Zen, Lamaism), Love is one of the four qualities of being that the practitioner must develop, one of the « Four Infinites » or « Four Incommensurables »: love, compassion, joy and equanimity.

From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke 

At that time Jesus said to his disciples: « I say to you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Wish good to those who curse you, pray for those who slander you.  To him who strikes you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. To him who takes your cloak, do not refuse your robe. Give to anyone who asks you, and to anyone who takes your goods, do not ask for them.

  What you want others to do for you, do also for them. If you love those who love you, what gratitude do you deserve ? Even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what recognition do you deserve? Even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive in return, what gratitude do you deserve ?

Even sinners lend to sinners so that they may be repaid. Instead, love your enemies, do good and lend without expecting anything in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Give, and it shall be given to you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, overflowing, shall be poured into the skirt of your garment; for the measure which you use for others shall be a measure for you also. Jesus told his disciples that they would be hated and reviled, and then he pronounced curses on the world, the enemy of God. His listeners could have concluded from this that he would also do this for you. (Lk, 6, 27-38)

Commandment of love Love those who hate you.

They were allowed to hate their enemies. Jesus, turning to them, warned them of their thoughts with these words: « But I say to you who are listening… » (Lk 6.27). He returned from the absent rich to his real listeners. Jesus enunciated that profound precept which is beyond the power of the natural man : « Love those who hate us. This commandment of love, which could only be fulfilled under the new law of the Gospel, was motivated in a different way in Matthew  where it is directly opposed to the spirit of the old law, and related to the love of the children of God for their heavenly Father.

This was how Jesus presented this profound contrast in the Sermon on the Mount. « If anyone wants to take away your tunic, leave him the cloak also. He assumed a creditor who first seizes the tunic, which is of lesser value, and then, if he is not paid enough, demands the cloak. Jesus, who until now had been speaking in a general way, in the plural, suddenly changed to the singular, in order to oblige each of his listeners to apply these words individually. It is the same in Matthew.

 To love, to do good, to lend, without expecting anything, is to act in the spirit and love of God himself, to prove to ourselves and to others that we are his children. This is the divine example that Jesus proposes to us, even in our dealings with the ungrateful and the wicked. Matthew gave as proof of God’s equal mercy to all : « He made his sun rise and poured out the rains of heaven on all without distinction.

The reward promised for doing what Jesus asks of all is that they will not be judged or condemned but absolved by God himself. The measure of his judgment is drawn from the very heart of the people : « For you will be judged with the judgment you judge, and you will be measured with the measure you measure » (Mt 7, 2).

The mercy of God, such is the sublime model that Jesus proposed to his disciples, was to become sons of this Father, being merciful like him; and this was their great reward. (Mt 5, 48) concludes the first part of his discourse with a similar thought, but expressed in different terms : « Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect ».

Luke recalled the goodness or mercy of God towards all, and it is this special perfection that he exhorts us to imitate and attain. This merciful spirit is also always ready to give; and by this very fact it attracts from God the richest gifts of his grace. This last thought is illustrated by a striking image, the multiplied epithets of which are intended to depict the richness of the divine liberality.

The expression ‘ in your’, is borrowed from the shape of the oriental costume, which, being very loose on the chest and tightened by a belt, provides a kind of pocket of rather large capacity: Jesus then said : « Present the cloak which you have on you and hold it. And she held it up, and he measured out six parts of barley and put it on her, and she went back to the city. (Ruth 3, 15)

Deacon Michel Houyoux

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Links to other Christian websites

◊ Deacon Lincoln : clid here to read the paper  →  Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time Year

◊ Young Catholics : clid here to read the paper  → 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

♥ Pastor David Dii  : « LOVE THOSE WHO HATE YOU – LIFE IN THE SPIRIT MINISTRIESS »

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Publié dans Catéchèse, La messe du dimanche, Page jeunesse, Religion, Temps ordinaire | Pas de Commentaires »

Saturday of the thirty-second week in Ordinary Time – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 13 novembre 2021

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The expression spiritual gift is used by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:11. He says, more elliptically, literally ‘the spiritual ones’ in 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 14:1. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and especially Paul’s Epistles, have several lists of spiritual gifts. In order to avoid confusion, it has been suggested that four of these lists be named more specifically: the seven gifts, charisms, ministries, and the fruit of the Spirit.

Nine gifts of the Holy Spirit are described by Paul of Tarsus in First Corinthians, chapter 12. In chapter 13, Paul describes the hierarchy of gifts, and makes a hymn to love. In chapter 14, he establishes a hierarchy of charisms for common use. On the subject of speaking in tongues, Paul returns to the need for interpretation: ‘Therefore he who speaks in tongues must pray that he may interpret.

For if I speak in tongues, my spirit prays, but my mind does not profit. (1 Cor 14:13-14). For more details on speaking in tongues and interpretation, see glossolalia. Several movements have helped to bring back the importance of spiritual gifts. These movements have been called « waves ». First there was the « first wave », Pentecostalism in 1906.

Then « the second wave », the charismatic movement in 1960. Finally, « the third wave », the neo-charismatic movement in 1980. Charismatics can be Evangelicals as well as Catholics, Anglicans or other Christian denominations. All emphasise the Spirit and his action in human lives and in the Church.

xEvangelical Christianity, mainly in the Pentecostal, Evangelical Charismatic and Neo-Charismatic movements, places particular emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). This theology of prioritising speaking in tongues is, however, contested both externally and within Pentecostalism itself.

Speaking in tongues can be seen as one possible charism among others. A believer can be born again, and baptized in the Holy Spirit, regenerated and filled with faith, without this life in the Spirit necessarily being manifested in the charism of tongues. « Do they all have healing charisms? Do they all speak in tongues? Do they all interpret? You, be zealous for the best charisms. »
From the book of Wisdom

14 A peaceful silence enveloped all things, and the night of the Passover was in the midst of its swift course; 15 then from heaven, coming from your royal throne, O Lord, your almighty Word melted down in the midst of this land of trouble, like a merciless warrior bearing the sharp sword of your unyielding decree. 16 It stood still and sowed death everywhere; it touched heaven and walked on the earth. (Wis 18, 14-16)

06 The whole of creation was remodelled in its own nature to serve your decrees, so that your children might be kept safe. 07 The cloud was seen to cover the camp with its shadow, and dry land was seen to emerge where there had been only water; from the Red Sea a pathway without obstacles arose, and from the rushing waters a green plain. 08 There the whole people, protected by your hand, passed through, beholding marvellous wonders. 09 They were like horses in a meadow, they leapt like lambs and sang your praise, Lord: you had delivered them. (Wis 19, 6-9)

Wisdom is a gift from God

God acts through his Word; what he did here on behalf of his people was shrouded in the peaceful silence of the night and kept its share of mystery. But the Bible reveals to us from beginning to end that the Word of God is creative and liberating; if it is sharp, it is to destroy evil and to bring about Truth and Life in us. « The Word of God is alive, energetic and sharper than a two-edged sword; it goes to the dividing point of the soul and the spirit [...] it judges the intentions and thoughts of the heart.

In the silence and darkness of our lives, light can shine forth. A life-giving word can be heard and give us confidence and courage. Then we see a little more clearly. Life can be reborn out of suffering, hardship and death. By raising Christ from the grave on the night of Easter, God has opened a breach, he has made a decision for Life, the forces of death no longer have the last word. Let us listen to him with a peaceful heart. Let us be surprised and shaped by the sharpness of his Word

The text of the first reading from the book of Wisdom puts forward the history of salvation, the movement of the world, of humanity, of the whole universe. « The whole creation, in its own nature, was remodelled in the service of your decrees so that your children might be kept safe. The whole people, protected by the divine hand, beheld marvellous wonders…they gave thanks to Yahweh who delivered them.

The book of wisdom confirms the limit of man’s wisdom and opens us to the infinite dimension of God’s wisdom. Wisdom is above all a gift from God. One day, King Solomon wanted to offer a great sacrifice in Gibeon, he wanted to sacrifice a thousand animals for his Lord. It was while he was sleeping there that he dreamed and Yahweh asked him to express a wish and that it would be granted.

The author celebrates the wonders that God did for his people to deliver them from slavery in Egypt. At the end of the book, he returned to the last act of the exit from Egypt, the crossing of the sea, with other motifs of the long journey through the desert to the promised land, such as the gift of the manna. Everything revolves around the theme of the reversal of creation, this change that manifests the power of God who comes to save his people. Nothing is impossible for God. Before him, the elements are transformed, for he is the Lord of the universe.

The words of Wisdom urge us to turn our lives over to God, for he will help us to find that wisdom which will enable us to understand the way of good and to enjoy his presence among us. In the face of the profound changes that have made global society even more complex and uncertain, Wisdom highlights the presence of God as a source of hope.

God will not allow his children to be crushed by the forces of evil that sometimes seem to prevail; nor will he allow those who live in justice and love to be overwhelmed. The crossing of the sea was the fulfilment of the Passover, the passage through the waters of baptism that begat in us a new creature.

The young Solomon, aware of his youth and that the people of Israel were the people of God, asked for wisdom to govern. Yahweh replied: « Since you have not asked for the gold of this world, for kingship, for the death of your enemies, beyond what you ask, I will give you all the riches of this world. God is the source of wisdom. One is not born wise but becomes wise, for wisdom is a gift from God. Wisdom is not a matter of age, it is an openness to God’s grace. Our existence falls apart if we lack wisdom. The wisdom of God is Christ himself.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian sites

◊ Daily Readings : click here to read the paper →   HOMILY FOR SATURDAY OF THE THIRTY-SECOND WEEK IN Ordsynary time, Yar B

◊ USCCB : click here to read the paper →  Saturday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Daily Gospel and Homily

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Publié dans Catéchèse, Religion, Temps ordinaire | Pas de Commentaires »

All Saints’ Day is the feast of all saints

Posté par diaconos le 30 octobre 2021

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 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven !

# All Saints’ Day is a Catholic feast day, celebrated on 1 November, during which the Catholic Church honours all saints, known and unknown. The liturgical celebration begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October and ends at the end of 1 November. It precedes by one day the Commemoration of the Faithful departed, whose solemnity has been officially set for 2 November. Protestants do not worship saints, but some Lutheran churches do celebrate this festival. The Orthodox Churches as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine rite continue to celebrate All Saints’ Sunday on the Sunday after Pentecost.

Festivals honouring all martyrs existed in the Eastern Churches as early as the fourth century on the Sunday after Pentecost. Today, the Communion of Orthodox Churches still celebrates All Saints’ Sunday on this date. In Rome, in the 5th century, a festival in honour of the saints and martyrs was already celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost. After the Pantheon in Rome was converted into a sanctuary, Pope Boniface IV consecrated it on 13 May 610 as the Church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Boniface IV wanted to commemorate all the Christian martyrs whose bodies were honoured in this shrine.

The feast of All Saints was then celebrated on 13 May, the anniversary of the dedication of this church to the martyrs, perhaps also in reference to a feast celebrated by the Syrian Church in the 4th century. It replaced the Lemuria festival of ancient Rome, which was celebrated on this date to ward off evil spectres. The celebration of the Christian feast of All Saints’ Day on 1 November is a Catholic specificity that appeared in the West in the 8th century. Indeed, it may have been from this period that it was celebrated on 1 November, when Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome to all the saints.

Around 835, Pope Gregory IV ordered that the feast be celebrated throughout Christendom. According to some historians, this decision was the reason why the feast of All Saints’ Day was set for 1 November. On the advice of Gregory IV, the Emperor Louis the Pious instituted the feast of all saints throughout the Carolingian Empire. The celebration of All Saints’ Day was followed locally by an office for the dead as early as the 9th century. In 998, the monks of Cluny instituted a feast of the dead on 2 November, which entered the Roman liturgy as a commemoration of the faithful dead in the 13th century.

 From the Gospel of Matthew

01 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. He sat down, and his disciples came to him. 02 Then he opened his mouth and taught them. He said: 03 « Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 04 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 05 Blessed are the meek, for they will receive the earth as an inheritance. 06 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 07 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 08 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 09 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you if they insult you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. This is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt 5, 1-12a)

The Beatitudes

Jesus, having ascended to a high plateau on the mountain, sits down with the crowds lined up around him and solemnly begins the teaching that follows. In eight beatitudes he proclaims happiness and indicates the qualities of those who have a share in the kingdom of the two. They are, first of all, those who aspire to the spiritual goods of this kingdom : the poor in spirit, whose humility puts them in possession of the kingdom ; those who weep, who will find consolation ; those who are meek, who by their meekness will win the earth ; those who hunger and thirst for justice, who will see their ardent desire satisfied. Next are those who possess the dispositions and are in the condition of members of the kingdom: the merciful, who will obtain mercy; those who are pure in heart and will see God ; those who bring peace and will be called sons of God ; those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake and whose reward will be great.

The mountain did not designate any particular summit, but in general the height, as opposed to the plain. Thus the inhabitants of the valleys say: go to the mountain, without indicating by this a special point of the chain of which it is a question. Tradition was more precise than the evangelists ; it placed the mountain of the Beatitudes not far from the city of Tiberias, situated on the edge of the lake of that name. Behind the mountain that dominates Tiberias is a wide plateau, sloping gently upwards towards a rock that forms the summit. It was on this rock that Jesus spent the night in prayer and that at daybreak he called his disciples and chose his apostles.

Then he went down to the crowd that was waiting for him on the plateau and it was from there that he taught the people. According to Luke, Jesus went down and it was in a plain that he gave his speech. According to Matthew, he went up a mountain with the people. Luke reports one more detail: Jesus first went up to the top and then down to the plateau.

At the foot of the rock, at the top of the plateau, there is a small platform, a sort of natural pulpit, from which a large crowd can easily see and hear him. It was from this spot that Jesus sat. His disciples, those of them whom he called to the apostolate and those who had already heard and tasted his word, surrounded him as always.

This discourse, which set forth the spiritual and sublime principles of the kingdom which Jesus came to found, could not be understood by all, nor could it be put into practice except by those who were animated by the spirit of that kingdom; but Jesus spoke and taught with a view to the future. His word was a revelation, and when his work is done, that word will become light and life in the hearts of his redeemed.

Opening his mouth, a Hebraism that indicates the solemnity of the action, the holy freedom of speech. « Here Luke vividly wrote a preface to show how Jesus prepared to preach: he went up a mountain, he sat down, he opened his mouth; this was to make the seriousness of his action felt. » (Luther)

« Many of the thoughts in this discourse are found in the teachings of Jesus and with different applications, which Jesus used more than once, sometimes short moral precepts, which were also to appear in his teachings.   This was a beautiful, gentle, loving entry into the doctrine and preaching of Jesus. He did not proceed, like Moses or a doctor of the law, by commands, threats, or terrors, but in the most affectionate manner, most likely to attract hearts, and by gracious promises. » ( Luther)

Then he went down to the crowd that was waiting for him on the plateau and it was from there that he taught the people. According to Luke, Jesus went down and it was in a plain that he gave his speech. According to Matthew, he went up a mountain with the people. Luke reports one more detail: Jesus first went up to the top and then down to the plateau.

At the foot of the rock, at the top of the plateau, there is a small platform, a sort of natural pulpit, from which a large crowd can easily see and hear him. It was from this spot that Jesus sat. His disciples, those of them whom he called to the apostolate and those who had already heard and tasted his word, surrounded him as always. This discourse, which set forth the spiritual and sublime principles of the kingdom which Jesus came to found, could not be understood by all, nor could it be put into practice except by those who were animated by the spirit of that kingdom; but Jesus spoke and taught with a view to the future. His word was a revelation, and when his work is done, that word will become light and life in the hearts of his redeemed.

Opening his mouth, a Hebraism that indicates the solemnity of the action, the holy freedom of speech. « Here Luke vividly wrote a preface to show how Jesus prepared to preach: he went up a mountain, he sat down, he opened his mouth; this was to make the seriousness of his action felt. » (Luther)

« Many of the thoughts in this discourse are found in the teachings of Jesus and with different applications, which Jesus used more than once, sometimes short moral precepts, which were also to appear in his teachings.   This was a beautiful, gentle, loving entry into the doctrine and preaching of Jesus. He did not proceed, like Moses or a doctor of the law, by commands, threats, or terrors, but in the most affectionate manner, most likely to attract hearts, and by gracious promises. » ( Luther)

However, this love had a deep seriousness about it, for those whom Jesus declared to be happy were very miserable in the world. They were happy only because of the promise that accompanied each of these declarations and motivated them. The poor in spirit are those who feel poor in their inner life, morally and spiritually poor, and thus long for the true riches of the soul (the spirit being the faculty by which we enter into relationship with God and realise the moral life). This feeling of poverty before God is not yet repentance, but a deep, painful humility that leads to it.

The poor in spirit are all those whose minds are detached from the goods of the earth, as Bossuet said and added : « O Lord! I give you everything: I abandon everything to have a share in this kingdom! I strip myself of heart and spirit, and when it pleases you to strip me indeed, I submit to it » (Meditations on the Gospel). Thus understood, the first beatitude of Matthew responded to the first beatitude of Luke and did not have a meaning almost identical to that of the fourth beatitude: « Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice ». Whether it be spiritual poverty or temporal poverty, humility or detachment, or both, such a situation is answered by the promise, or rather the positive and present declaration: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Those who weep, or who mourn, or who are sad, will be comforted, because this sadness brings them to the source of forgiveness, peace, life. This gentleness, this surrender to God’s will, in the presence of violence, injustice and hatred, is produced in them by a humble and saddened sense of what they lack. It implies the renunciation of the advantages and joys of this world; but, by a magnificent compensation, those who practise it will inherit the land. The land of promise, Canaan, is taken in its spiritual sense and signifies the homeland above, the kingdom of God, the possession of which is assured to those who are meek. « The world uses force to possess the land; Jesus teaches us that it is won by gentleness » (Luther)

This hunger and thirst for spiritual goods which they lack, for the true inner justice of which they feel deprived, for a life in conformity with God’s will, is born in them from the dispositions of an ardent desire for life, which often recurs in Scripture. Every soul that experiences this before God will be satisfied, satisfied with justice, since it is of justice that it hungers and thirsts. The subsequent revelations of the Gospel will teach him how he will achieve this. The merciful are those who do not think only of their own misery, but who sympathise with the misery of their brothers. One must have felt one’s own misery, have suffered oneself, to be able to sympathise with the suffering of others. One must have been the object of God’s infinite love in order to be able to love others and practice charity towards them.

This is the double thought that links this beatitude to the previous ones. It is also linked to them by the consideration that those whom Jesus calls to the happiness of his disciples will still need to obtain mercy on the day of the supreme judgement, for although they will be assured of the kingdom of heaven, although they will be comforted and filled with justice, there will still be many shortcomings and imperfections in their lives that need to be covered. They will be forgiven and shown mercy as they have shown mercy.

The heart is, according to Scripture, the organ of the moral life. To be pure of heart is, in contrast to external works, to be free from all defilement, from all falsehood, from all injustice, from all malice in this intimate centre of thoughts and feelings. This is not the moral state of the natural man.  As each promise corresponds to the disposition described in each of these beatitudes, those who are pure in heart are happy, because they will live in His communion while they are alive, and will one day immediately contemplate Him in the supreme beauty of His perfections, the inexhaustible source of heavenly bliss.

Those who are not only peaceful themselves, but who, having found peace, endeavour to procure it for others and to restore it among men, where it is disturbed. They are happy, because they will be called by that sweet and glorious title: sons of God. This title expresses a profound reality; for as these sons of God bring peace, they have a likeness to their Father who is « the God of peace » Romans 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:11, they act according to His Spirit. Therefore they are sons of God, but moreover they will be called such, their title will be recognised by God and by all.

 Because of righteousness, those who are persecuted are blessed, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In the eighth beatitude, Jesus returned to the first. He thus closes a harmonic cycle of experiences and promises. The first four concern those who seek in their deepest need, the last four those who have found and are already developing some activity in the kingdom of God. Each promise, the source of happiness responding exactly and abundantly to each state of soul described, shines a ray of the glory of the kingdom of heaven: to the afflicted, consolation; to the meek, possession of the earth; to the hungry, satiation; to the merciful, mercy; to the pure in heart, the sight of God; to those who give peace, the title of children of God.

 But in the first and last beatitudes, Jesus, who is the Master of the kingdom of heaven, dispensed it entirely to the poor and the persecuted; and there alone He spoke in the present tense: « This kingdom is theirs. The reward, which in no way weakens the truth of salvation by grace through faith, is great in proportion to the faithfulness and love with which the disciples of Jesus suffered for His name. However, no Christian seeks this reward apart from God and the happiness of serving him, otherwise he would lose what makes it great and sweet.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian sites

◊ BBC Religionq : click here to read the paper → Christianity : All Saints’ Day and All .Souls’ Day

◊ triviasharp.com  : click here to read the paper → All Saints Day 2021: Facts About the Feast of All Saints

The Feast of All Saints

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Publié dans Catéchèse, fêtes religieuses, Page jeunesse, Religion, Temps ordinaire, Vie des saints | Pas de Commentaires »

Friday of the Second Week in Pascal Time

Posté par diaconos le 16 avril 2021

He distributed as much as they wanted to the guests

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# The first multiplication of the loaves takes place after the death of John the Baptist at the behest of Herod Antipas, in response to the desire of his daughter Salome, and the healing of the sick. A second multiplication of the loaves takes place later which involves a different number of people. Matthew and Mark are the only two evangelists to record it. Some exegetes think that it is the same event told twice. However, the two miracles did not take place in the same place, in one case there were five thousand men, in the other case there were four thousand. The number of extra baskets of bread was also different. Jesus later referred to the two miracles and clearly distinguished them.

For the doctor of the Church John Chrysostom, Jesus in this miracle posed as the creator of heaven and earth. By this gesture he encouraged people to pray before eating, and he wanted to show the importance of sharing. More modern theologians have said that the multiplication of the loaves is a symbol of the Word given by Christ, a word that has nourished people for centuries. For St Ephrem, Jesus gave generously without counting the cost in this miracle. He gave so much that twelve baskets remained.

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From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John

At that time Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee, the Lake of Tiberias. A great crowd followed him, because they had seen the signs he performed on the sick. Jesus went up the mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. Jesus looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him.

He said to Philip :  « Where can we buy bread for them to eat ?  » He said this to test him, for he knew what he was doing. Philip replied : « The wages of two hundred days would not be enough for everyone to get a little bread. »  One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him : « There is a young boy there who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what is that for so many people ! « 

Jesus said :  « Make the people sit down. »  There was a lot of grass in that place. So they sat down, about five thousand of them.  Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to the guests ; he also gave them fish, as much as they wanted. When they had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples :  « Gather up the extra pieces, so that nothing is lost. « 

So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that were left over for those who were taking the food. When the people saw the sign Jesus had performed, they said :  « This is truly the Prophet who was foretold, the one who is coming into the world. «   But Jesus knew that they were coming to take him away to make him their king; so again he withdrew into the mountain, he alone. » (Jn 6, 1-15)

 The crisis in Galilee

 If the feast for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem was indeed Purim, which was celebrated in March, the word « after these things » postpones it to a few weeks later, for the approaching Passover feast was in April. John did not mean that Jesus went away from Jerusalem beyond the Sea of Galilee. He implied that Jesus was returning to Capernaum, which was the starting point for this excursion to the eastern shore of the lake.

Here John joined the accounts of the synoptics. He assumed that they were known and that was the reason for this trip across the lake.  Jesus wanted to withdraw to the solitude with his disciples, in order to seek for himself and for them some time of rest and recollection, but the crowd that followed him thwarted his plan. John added : of Tiberias because, outside Palestine, the Sea of Galilee was better known as the Lake of Tiberias.

Tiberias, a city located almost at the southern end of the lake and on the Galilean shore, had been built by Herod Antipas and named after the emperor Tiberius. The crowds had been gathering around Jesus ever since his return to Galilee, and Jesus himself had been performing many acts of healing on the sick. Many followed him for the sake of the sick themselves, others out of curiosity, and still others eager to see him and hear his word.

According to John, it was Jesus who took the initiative, while in the account of the Synoptics, it was the disciples who first thought of coming to the aid of the multitude.  It was not to enlighten himself that Jesus addressed this question to his disciple; the miracle had already been decided in his mind, and he knew that he had the power to accomplish it.

But he wanted to make this disciple think, and to see if, in a situation where no help was offered to him, he could put his trust in the wisdom and power of Jesus.  Philip’s answer confirmed this. Seeing only the multitude to feed, he hastily made a calculation and concluded that two hundred denarii of bread would not be enough for everyone to have a little. There was nothing left! Indeed, the poor purse that was used to support Jesus and his disciples had never had such a fortune.

So Andrew asked what food was available, and all that was left was five loaves and two fish! This is exactly the provision given in the synoptic accounts, with the only difference that John wrote that these loaves were made from barley flour, which was usually used by poor people. Andrew’s research was so precise that he expressed himself thus : « There is only one boy here.  » This disciple, like Philip, came to the same discouraging conclusion : « What is this for so many people?  »

By going into these details John wanted to bring out the contrast between the embarrassment of the disciples and the power that Jesus displayed.  Jesus also commanded his disciples and this multitude. If John spoke only of the men, it was because each of them, as head of a family, had to receive his share of food for himself and his family. The women and the little children were not neglected. « Those who had eaten were about five thousand, not counting the women and children. « (Mt 14, 21)

John noted that there was a lot of grass there, a carpet of grass with flowers, for it was springtime, April, so that everything contributed to the beauty and joy of the gathering. When Jesus took the loaves, he looked up to heaven and gave thanks for what God had given and the blessing that would bring abundance: « Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the crowd » (Lk 9, 16).

As soon as the people were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, they wanted to proclaim him King. How false were the crowd’s ideas about this kingship! They had no desire for the true freedom of inner freedom from sin, which could have become the means of their freedom from the political and social tyranny under which they groaned. The contradiction between the prevailing opinion and the thoughts of Jesus, as to the means of deliverance and the nature of His reign, was to become ever more pronounced, and finally lead the people to reject their Messiah.

So that, as Mr. Luthardt rightly observes :  « This false enthusiasm with which Jesus was here subjected was for him the signal for his rejection and death.  » This is why Jesus left the crowd and withdrew alone to the mountain. In this solitude he immersed his soul in the communion of God; for he knew that at that moment he had reached the summit of popular favour and that from then on he would only descend to the cross.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊  Laura Kazias : click here to read the paper → The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

◊ Catholic.net  : click here to read the paper →   Catholic.net – On the Multiplication of the Loaves

   Father John Durbin

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Publié dans Disciples de Jésus, Nouveau Testament, Page jeunesse, Religion, Temps pascal | Pas de Commentaires »

 

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