This last weekend of July we celebrate the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel passage is taken from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. For five weeks in a row, we will hear passages from that same chapter which begins with the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. This particular miracle by Jesus is the only one contained in all four Gospels. John’s theology is profound because his focus is upon Jesus who takes the initiative in asking Philip: Where can we buy enough food for them to eat? (In the other evangelists’ accounts, a disciple approaches Jesus). Jesus is concerned about the people and takes charge of the situation. The crowd that witnesses this miracle clearly see it as a sign that Jesus is a prophet. The story has Eucharistic overtones which will unfold for us in the coming weeks’ Gospel passages. Jesus is not only concerned about fulfilling the human and physical needs of people. He also greatly desires to satisfy their spiritual needs. That includes all of us. He gives of himself totally for us, and, thus, eventually gives himself totally to us. Jesus understands the significance of eating with others. Special things take place at meals and around the table. We are nourished not only by the food prepared for us, but by the conversations that take place, the stories shared, and our acceptance and affirmation of one another. We reach out and minister to one another in subtle ways around the table. As a child, I treasured family meals, especially Sunday morning breakfast. Growing up, my mom, dad and the six of us children went to 9:30 AM Mass together. We arrived a half hour early and sat in the third pew from the front (middle aisle) because mom thought it was important for us to see what was going on at Mass. When we returned home, it was a group project getting breakfast together. My dad usually cooked breakfast (eggs to order along with bacon). Some of us were responsible for setting the table, pouring the juice and water as others were making the toast, while others ran around the house and made up the beds (which did not get made before church). We had a great time, sometimes even talking about the sermon (as it was called in those days). Of course, some of us were on dish duty after breakfast and conversation continued. Unlike today’s Gospel, there were hardly any fragments to gather up (and save for left-overs).
Speaking of meals, did you know that two of the many names given to the Eucharist are: The Lord’s Supper and The Supper of the Lamb? More on that next week.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ