09.23.18 – 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Fun Fact: Why is Wisdom referred to as “She”?
First we must think, if there is a “She”, who is the “He?” The “He” is God (the Father), later Jesus Christ, who came as a man. This implies a male-female bond which is carried through scripture. This bond reflects God’s covenant relationship with His people. It is reflected in marriages today as well, and helps us understand why that marriage is between one male and one female:

  1. God the Father speaks often of His beloved “Bride” – the people of Israel.
  2. Jesus Christ (male) and His “Bride” the Church.
  3. The Groom (male) and His Bride (female).

Image result for wisdom personified

Many cultures personify Wisdom as a woman.

WIS 2:12, 17-20

(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

The seven books of scripture that are categorized as “Wisdom Literature” include Wisdom of Solomon, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, Song of Songs, Job and Proverbs.

Wisdom was written 50 years before the coming of Christ.  This book tells us quite literally, of the wisdom of King Solomon. It’s as if someone sat down to write “the best of” when it came to Solomon’s wise sayings and perspectives. Wisdom – here personified as a female (“she”) – helps us try to grasp one of the greatest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – Fear of the Lord. This is not “fear” as in to be afraid, but rather awe.

Today we have a description of what the wicked think; we get a glimpse at how they see the world. But it behooves us to keep reading after this reading selection ends, because that’s where we find more hope. Here’s part of the reading…

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.

and here are the verses that follow, the “they” are “the wicked” spoken about above:

These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
And they did not know the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense for holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
For God formed us to be imperishable;
the image of his own nature he made us.

Despite the wicked and their actions, despite evil and its presence, God will prevail.


Psalm 54: The Lord Upholds my Life
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

Today’s psalm reminds us that God is in charge, that He is all powerful and all knowing even in the face of the wicked and the evil the devil hurls at us.

O God, by your name save me,
and by your might defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer;
hearken to the words of my mouth.

JAS 3:16—4:3

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

We hear echoes of Wisdom in the letter from St. James. There’s encouragement here that God’s wisdom is “pure, peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits..” and so much more. God IS wisdom. We can trust that He knows what He is doing, even though we might suffer, and ask for the human wisdom to understand and follow Him come what may.

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,
there is disorder and every foul practice. 
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,
then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,
without inconstancy or insincerity. 
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace
for those who cultivate peace.

MK 9:30-37

(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Jesus predicts his passion, death and resurrection 3 times in Mark’s Gospel, and we are at the 2nd time today. At this point in the story the disciples had recently seen Jesus transfigured, they had seen him heal a boy possessed by a demon, and now they are traveling with Jesus to Capernaum.

On the road, the disciples were sort of chit-chatting: “Who is the greatest among us?” My kids do this, too. Times haven’t changed. Who deserves another bowl of cereal. Who deserves to sit in the front seat of the car. Who deserves extra dessert in their lunch. Bicker bicker. So what is Jesus saying to the disciples today? He’s setting them straight. Aiming to strip them of their egos. Reminding them where they are and bringing them face to face with their need – and indeed desire – for authentic humility.

He sums it up by telling them to be like a child. Be small, be like a child in the eyes of God. Serve others, be small. Do not seek greatness on Earth, but aim heavenward. Children were the symbol Jesus used for the poor in spirit, the lowly in the Christian community.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?” 
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest. 
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” 
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

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09.09.18 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Fun Fact #1:
The book of Isaiah is often called “the Fifth Gospel.” It is so rich and prophesies about every aspect of Christ’s life – his birth, his life, his passion, his death, and his resurrection. It is truly remarkable and comprehensive. It’s also long – the longest book in the bible. Isaiah can be divided into 2 main parts.

  1. Chapters 1-39: The book of judgment. (Summary: God’s people aren’t listening. They’re worshipping idols.) We’re in this part today – the early verses of chapter 35.
  2. Chapters 40-66: The book of consolation. (Summary: God is ever-loving. He will never tire from trying to save his people. He will save those who turn back.)

Fun Fact #2
– Did you know that the audience for St. Paul’s letters are non-Jews, whereas the audience for St. James (our 2nd reading today) are Jews? They are from Jewish descent but are now followers of Christ.

IS 35:4-7A

(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today we hear Isaiah prophesy about what will happen when Israel is delivered – when they repent. So it’s a very upbeat reading. In the previous chapter though? It’s judgment. Things like “The Lord is angry with all nations…the hosts of heaven shall rot…When my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens, it shall come down upon Edom for judgment.” But see the good news that awaits those who repent:

Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
(today’s Gospel)
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Remember that line – “Be strong, fear not! He comes to save you…”

Psalm 146: Praise the Lord, my Soul!”
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

The psalmist will likely sing this familiar tune, lifting his or her voice to the heavens and thus asking us to lift our hearts to God in all we do.

The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.

JAS 2:1-5

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

The letter of St. James is largely concerned with ethical conduct – that is, how should we act and behave on a daily basis? From usccb.org, “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sin, and expectation of judgment.”

Today we are asked to avoid judgment of others and partial treatment.  That is, everyone you meet is a child of God. When it is hard to see God in someone else, ask yourself: “What does God see and love in this person? How can I focus on these qualities? Lord, help me to see this person as you do.” A priest told me that once and I never forgot it, I hope it has helped me be a bit more charitable when I see people who are not familiar to me or who don’t live similar lifestyles, such as homeless beggars on street corners. In short, God doesn’t have favorites.

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please,”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet,”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?

MK 7:31-37

(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Image result for picture of jesus healing the deaf man

Today Jesus fulfills Isaiah 35, our first reading. After last’ weeks’ reading, Jesus goes on to heal 2 non-Jews, one of whom is deaf and mute – today’s Gospel. This is not a public miracle. Jesus pulls this man aside to heal him. Why? Scholars suggest that here we see how Jesus heals us each according to our ailments and our needs. Why? We don’t really know. Nor does it matter.

What we can consider is that Jesus doesn’t do miracles for miracles’ sake. He heals persons – hearts, minds and bodies. He heals so that we might believe still deeper, so that we might love more richly, so that we might spread news of his hand in our lives and lead others to belief, too.

How can Jesus heal you? Who may be in need of hearing a story of how God has worked in your life? This week we give thanks for the ongoing miracles of Jesus, and ask Him to reveal them to us more fully. May God bless your week!

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

09.02.18 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Today’s Theme: The Heart.

Image result for image jesus wants your heart

Fun Fact:
Deuteronomy is book 5 of the Pentateuch. It is the farewell letter of a dying prophet (Moses) to the nation he loved with all his heart, mind and soul (*there are 51 references to “heart” in the book). The book was written to the Israelites beyond the Jordan – when they were in the wilderness. Deuteronomy means “second law,” Moses “re-tells” the law because as you may recall, the Israelites broke it the first time (the Golden Calf incident is often referred to as “the Second Fall”).

Deuteronomy: 4: 1-2, 6-8
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today Moses is the author, and he puts forth a 2nd law to the people. Telling them again – follow God’s law! Do as you are commanded.  Do not veer from this law but take it into your homes and hearts.

What we have here is, in effect, “Part I” of God’s law – Part I lives in the Old Testament writings. What then is “Part II?”  Part II of course is the New Covenant that is ushered in by Jesus. That New Covenant is activated the moment Jesus dies on the cross, the moment he has given his life – his body – for us as expiation for our sins. So think of Reading 1 as a precursor. God (through Moses) establishes the law. Jesus does not abolish it, but fulfills it.

Moses said to the people:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 
In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin upon you,
you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it. 
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him? 
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?” 


Psalm 15:The one who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

Note the mention of “heart” in the first verse. Aim this week to do justice for God in your daily life by aiming to be a follower of Him.

Whoever walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.

JAS 1:17-18, 21B-22, 27

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

We have a special treat today, hearing from St. James. He was concerned largely with ethical conduct, and today we hear his point of view on living out the Word we read. Understanding – or working hard to understand – that the Word is ALIVE. That Christ actually IS the word of God, the scriptures, but just in the flesh. That is why this blog exists. To crack open The Word, to open the scriptures, so that we better understand Jesus, for He IS the Word. Today, we must be Doers. We must act as we believe.

All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.
He willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this:
to care for orphans and widows in their affliction
and to keep oneself unstained by the world.


(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

It’s important to know as you hear the Gospel that the Pharisees were hyper. They were hyper-careful and hyper-vigilant about keeping the laws of their forefathers. Imagine you had something valuable you didn’t want anyone to to take. A diamond ring for example. You put it in the lock box of a bank to keep it safe. Then you put that lock box into another safety-deposit box to keep the ring even safer. The ring is surrounded by 2 circles of safety  – the lock box, and then the safety deposit box.

This is what the Pharisees did with God’s law that was handed down by Moses. They said, “We will not break God’s laws again! And to be sure of that, we will make even MORE laws (the outer-most ‘circle’ of safety) so that the mosaic laws (the inner-most ‘circle’ of safety). But that outer-most circle were laws the Pharisees concocted, not God. What eventually happened is that the Pharisees become so fixed on not breaking any laws that the lost what was at the heart of the matter – following God, and giving him quite literally, your heart.

We are called to generosity of heart. God wants our hearts entirely. Fully. Unabashedly. Today we are reminded not to get so caught up by all the rules that we forget the One who set them in place for us and the end goal of becoming His follower. We are called to follow Him throughout our lives and be led by His great hand to the promise land of Heaven.

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
—For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. —
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”

He summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.

“From within people, from their hearts,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

08.12.18 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Reading #1 – 1 Kings 19:4-8
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today we hear about the prophet Elijah and his feelings of utter desolation. Elijah, perhaps the most key prophet in the Old Testament, has been fleeing the wrath of Jezebel. She was the wife of a bad king (Ahab) and encouraged the worship of idols and the killing of prophets.

Elijah’s very life is in danger. He was told to travel 40 days to the mountain of God (of note is that Moses also spent 40 days and nights atop this mountain with God).He has lost all hope and feels nothing good can come from anything he can do. He asks God to take his life. But God sent an angel to Elijah during the night. When he woke,

“Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water. 
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” 
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.”

We need food for the journey. We need Eucharist for the journey – especially on bad days. On days we feel void of all ideas, positive feelings, and negativity is setting in. Let us always find the strength to get up, eat, and drink so that we might carry on our journey. God is always walking with us.

Image result for elijah bread water 1 Kings


Psalm 34: Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

We can hear what Elijah might have been thinking or feeling in these verses, including a visit from the angel around the camp where he slept:

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Reading 2;EPH 4:30—5:2

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

Saint Paul today reminds us to eschew negativity in our daily lives and embrace love. To ourselves, to one another, and to God. I’ve bolded the words or phrases that struck a chord with me. Which words or phrases strike you? Where are you on your journey, and what do you need to hear today?

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice. 
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

John 6: 41-51
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.

We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

The gospel today is a scene in which Jesus and the Jews are in a conversation – where there’s a lot of murmuring about Jesus – as they try to decipher Jesus’s claim that He is the Way to eternal life – that He is the bread that came down from Heaven. We are knee-deep in John 6 – the chapter that puzzles us all but is also at the root of our core beliefs as Catholics.

Jesus sounds like a bit of a broken record; every week, all month, we keep hearing the same thing. I am the bread of life. I am the bread from Heaven. To the Father through ME. Everlasting life is yours, but only through me. Come, follow me.

Next week the Jews will quarrel still more. The following week’s gospel, the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, everything will come to a head. We’ll hear the disciples say, “This is a hard saying, who can accept it?” But today? We’re still in confusion.

Murmuring is a key word for us to consider today. This morning’s homily focused on how murmuring (gossiping, idle talk, etc) often leads to negative thoughts and thus actions and beliefs. We must focus instead on the light – on the love of God as St. Paul reminds us in the 2nd reading. We must come to God not with a white flag of surrender as Elijah did, but with a hopeful and trusting heart. A heart that reflects the knowledge that God can do anything.

…”whoever believes has eternal life. 
I am the bread of life. 
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven
so that one may eat it and not die. 
I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

08.05.18 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday’s readings.

Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

(*Note, full readings are not pasted below as usual; I am on vacation and writing from vacation in bar harbor, Maine..on a phone vs laptop. Apologies for the messy formatting too!)

Reading 1 EX 16:2-4, 12-15

(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today’s reading from Exodus is a precursor to more from St John in our gospel. Remember we are in chapter 6 – the bread of life discourse.  Listen in the reading to the first time God answered His peoples need for food and sustenance.

Oh how they complained at having less than, at the lack of food! Even after generations in horrific slavery they forgot the evils of their time in Egypt. They say they want to go back … for the food.(?) People often wonder why God chose to become bread and wine; I think it is answered in this reading. Food is at the core of our being and at the core of our need to live. Without it, we become irrational beings, even desiring things for ourselves that are bad (like slavery). So God was very purposeful when he chose to stay with us for eternity in the form of bread and wine. He wants to be at the core of our being, at the core of our need to live, too.  

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

Psalm 78: The Lord have them bread from Heaven.

(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

Beautiful verses to compliment our first reading and the story of the wandering, grumbling Israelites who seek God.

2nd Reading -Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

We are in Ephesians again, as we have been for a few weeks and will be for a few more. Today Paul speaks to the small church that is growing in Ephesus and say to them, out with the Old, in with the New. Out with your old selfish, single-minded, closed to change You and in with the new, generous, open-minded Christ centered You. A good chance to reflect today – how are we doing with this transformation in our lives right now?

“I declare and testify in the Lord
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus,
that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

John 6: 24-35

(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Today the disciples get to hear the real deal from Jesus about the bread of life. Next week they will question him and some will leave him, turning around and walking right out the door.

But today Jesus connects the dots. The conversation turns to food and signs. Jesus tells them to work for food that ensures, but they don’t understand that. They say “well, our ancestors ate food and were filled. It says so in the Torah. You say to believe in You, that God sent You. What sign can you give us that we should believe in You?”

Jesus says “well friends, you’re right. Your ancestors did get bread from heaven, but it wasn’t from Moses it was from my father. And it filled bellies but not souls, so it wasn’t eternal. Now is the time. He sent me and now I’m finally here. I AM the sign. I AM the bread of life. I AM eternal life. I AM The Way.”

The disciples want this bread! They want it always! But they don’t really get it. They have desire but not real, authentic faith. It is conditional faith. It’s a faith that says, “yes I believe! As long as I can believe in my own way.” How do we know that to be true? Because next week they bail. So many jump ship when they find out what it really means to follow Jesus Christ. He means we eat his flesh and drink his blood in the form of transformed bread and wine.

It is probably the biggest head-scratcher in history for our human, logic oriented minds. But alas, that is where the challenge of faith comes in. Do we really believe it? Can we do it? What would we have thought if in Jesus’s company? I can’t say if I would have stayed or gone. I’d like to say I’d have stayed and also said, “Lord, to whom should we go?” But I will never know.

 

All I know is what I can do now, which is to believe and to trust today.

Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

 

7.29.18 – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Image result for loaves and fishes

Have you ever heard it said that God has a sense of humor? There’s some real irony in the scriptures when it comes to the 2 books of Kings. During one of my bible studies, someone asked, “Why are these books even in scripture? So much of the content is just about a bunch of bad behaving, selfish, idol-worshiping kings! How did these books make the cut and end up in the bible, the Word of God?”

Great. Question. The simple answer is that God sometimes shows us what not to do, in order to teach us what to do. This is the case in the books of Kings. We see kings who fight, worship idols, kill, scheme, cheat and lie. Scholars posit this is so we can 1) recognize that earthly kings were never God’s idea (the Israelites begged Samuel, “Give us a king to lead us!”) and 2) Earthly kings, whether they try to be good or don’t – are imperfect. Thus, God is the only true and perfect King.

2 KGS 4:42-44

(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today we have a pre-cursor to the gospel, which is loaves and fishes. The great prophet Elisha performs the same miracle as Jesus, but on a smaller scale. He feeds them the nutrient-rich food they need to feed their bellies, but Jesus will later add to that by giving the people (and us) the spiritual food to feed our souls.

A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God,
twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits,
and fresh grain in the ear.
Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.”
But his servant objected,
“How can I set this before a hundred people?”
Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.”
“For thus says the LORD,
‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'”
And when they had eaten, there was some left over,
as the LORD had said.


Psalm 145:The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

We hear themes of bread, loves, eating and being filled in today’s psalm.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

EPH 4:1-6

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

From his jail cell, St. Paul begs us to see the need for UNITY. Unity in our relationships. Unity in our families. Unity in our communities. Unity in our Church. We can ask ourselves today, how are we striving for unity in these areas of our lives right now? Note the repetition Paul uses, writing the word “one” seven times, the word “call” 3 times, and the word “all” five times.

I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

JN 6:1-15

(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Today we are in John chapter 6, one of the longest chapters in the gospels and the core of our Catholic faith – the Bread of Life Discourse. We experience this during Year B (when we read Mark’s gospel) in part because Mark’s gospel is shorter than Matthew and Luke. The Church in Her wisdom, chooses to take a few weeks during Year B to remind us of our #1 reason for being – The Eucharist. The Source and Summit of our faith.

This reading is the familiar loaves and fishes story. There are some significant numerical facts to ponder: The numbers 2, 5, and 12.

2 – the number of fish God blessed.
5 – the number of loaves God blessed.
12 – the number of wicker baskets collected as leftovers.

2+5=7. 7 translates biblically to “completion.” (Think the 7 sacraments, the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit…) Scholars believe that here, the number 5 (loaves) represents the 5 books of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and the number 2 (fish) represents the prophets and the psalms. This in effect, makes up the Old Testament. The number 12 then, represents the 12 tribes of Israel which are being symbolically gathered on the hill with Jesus. It’s the remnant being brought back together and being fed both physical food for strength and spiritual food for faith.

The Eucharist is our spiritual food. As Catholics we read John 6 as a command to eat His body and drink His blood, for Christ himself commanded it in the Upper Room. We see this as unequivocally true, and in my opinion that is made easier by the repeated words of Christ throughout John 6; he says it over and over again, in many different words and phrases and despite the pushback from the disciples:

“My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him,
and I will raise him up on the last day.”

7.22.18 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.

Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Image result for disciples in a boat with jesus

JEREMIAH 23:1-6
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today’s first reading from the  prophet Jeremiah, one of the four major prophets. He had a tough job during a tough part of Israel’s history. He had to tell Gods people that destruction was imminent if they did not turn around.
Today we can hear his words of warning; the message from God is that Israel has turned its back. The shepherds are leading the people in the wrong direction, toward idolatry and a thirst for power and riches. God says he will send better shepherds – and the Ultimate Good Shepherd Jesus – will come from the shoot of Jesse.

 

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD. 


Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
as king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.


Psalm 23: The Lord is My Shepherd There is Nothing I Shall Want
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

The shepherd theme is continued from the 1st Reading to the psalm.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

Ephesians 2: 13-18
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters.
 Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has one overarching theme; Unity in the Church. We are in Chapter 2 today, and we are in this letter on Sundays all the way through the month of August! So remember, think “Unity” during Reading 2 until then. See if you can see themes of Unity from Paul, then see how you might be able to apply it to your life.

Today we can start by saying well, if unity is desired, then the people must be scattered at the time he wrote this. Scattered…like sheep. Divided. They must be “far off” as it says in the first verse. We also see the covenant of marriage here, the one Jesus made to his bride, The Church: “that he might create in himself (in His Church) one new person in place of two” (the two become one flesh).

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace,
and might reconcile both with God,
in one body, through the cross,
putting that enmity to death by it.
He came and preached peace to you who were far off
and peace to those who were near,
for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Mark 6:30-34
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Sometimes we need to get away. Sometimes we need to disengage. We need to hear His voice. To pray. To contemplate. To discern. Jesus tells his disciples today to do this, and we know He has done it himself throughout the gospels.
And so they did; they went away on a boat. In the scriptures, water and the sea signify danger and the unknown or unknowable. Land signifies safety. Jesus The Safety Net took his people to the unknown. This invited them to Trust.
In our lives, where is the unknown? What scares us? Maybe Jesus wants to take us into a boat – just Him and us – to show us his immeasurable love, mercy and care. He is our shepherd, that is what He wants to be for us. The Good Shepherd. The Greatest One.
The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.