Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This Sunday we begin a five week focus on the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John. We do this every three years, just as we repeat all the Sunday readings every three years. That the Church should spend five weeks on John 6 demonstrates that this is one of the most important sections of the Gospels[1].

The 6 chapter of John’s gospel begins with the multiplications of the loaves and fish. Why is this miracle retold so often in the Gospels? There are two accounts of the multiplication in Matthew and Mark, one in Luke and one in John. In each passage phrases are used that are repeated at the Last Supper. "He took, He blessed, He broke." Each passage refers to God’s continual gift of the one food we need, the Eucharist.

The Gospel of John places the multiplication of the loaves and fish at the time of the Passover. This isn’t just a passing note. The Passover was the sacred meal of the Jews celebrating their freedom from slavery in Egypt and thanking God for His continual protection. In today’s Gospel Jesus provided a meal at the Passover time. He would provide another meal during another Passover. Holy Thursday took place at the time of the celebration of the Passover. The Last Supper was really the First Supper of the new People of God. The food would no longer be the Passover lamb, but the Lamb of God. The people would eat the Body and Blood of the Lord. It would be a meal of deliverance from slavery, slavery to the devil, slavery to sin. It would be a meal that would provide freedom. It would be a meal that would celebrate the New Life of the Lord. So, from the very start of today’s Gospel, we know that John is speaking about more than loaves and fish. He is speaking about the meal of the Christian Community, the Eucharist.

In today’s Gospel Jesus sees the needs of the people. He restores their strength with his food. This is not just about loaves and fish. Jesus is performing a prophetic action. He provides the banquet Psalm 23 spoke of, the Banquet of the Lord. Those who eat this food will continue to eat it in the House of the Lord forever. When we receive communion, we share in the meal of the Kingdom of God. We are united to people throughout the world and throughout time who also share in this meal.

When we receive communion, we are present at the Last Supper, the First Supper, and the Banquet of the Lord. When we receive communion we enter into the intimate union with God that Jesus came to earth to provide.

How much our God cares for us! He has found a way to nourish our spiritual lives. His very Body and Blood keep us strong. He gives us the strength to proclaim his Kingdom.

We need to ask ourselves at communion time: "What am I doing?" Am I just following the crowd? Hopefully not. Am I receiving some sort of blessing? Hopefully, we realize that communion is much more than a blessing. What is it that I am doing when I receive communion? I am receiving the Food that God provides.

Today we pray for a deeper appreciation, a deeper reverence for the great gift of Love that is the Eucharist •

[1] 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B), July 26, 2015. Readings: 2 Kings 4:42-44; Responsorial Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18;Ephesians 4:1-6;  John 6:1-15.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris