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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST -C- May 29, 2016

Genesis 14: 18-20; Psalm 110: 1-4; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; Luke 9: 11b-17

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

PRE-NOTE: Welcome to the latest email recipients of "First Impressions," the parishioners of St James Parish, Petaluma, Ca.

For a review of St. Dominic: The Story of a Preaching Friar, by fr. Donald J. Goergen, OP, go to http://www.preacherexchange.com/ and click on Book Reviews.



From the way Luke narrates the multiplication of the bread and fish you can tell he was thinking of the miracle in Eucharistic ways. He is suggesting that just as Jesus gave the bread to the hungry crowd, he would give himself as food and drink to us. Paul reminds us that when we celebrate Eucharist we remember Jesus’ dying and his life given for us. What we eat becomes part of us; but when we take the Eucharist we become part of Jesus and enter into his life.

The narrative begins with Jesus healing those "who needed to be cured." Then we are told about the hungry crowd assembled around Jesus. To hear an episode of feeding stirs memory for the reader of similar accounts in the Bible. The primary feeding miracle for the Jewish people was the daily manna God provided for them during their wilderness sojourn. Elisha fed another crowd with loaves of bread and there were also leftovers (2 Kings 4:42-44). Jesus’ miracle stirs memory for those he fed, as it does for the readers of Luke’s gospel.

Through the prophets God fed hungry and stressed Israelites over an extended and arduous period. In the multiplication account Luke is showing that God continues to do the same. God has established a repetitious pattern we can rely on; a habit which God will not break. God sees people in dire straits and reaches out to them. God was that way...God is that way... and God will continue to be that way.

Trusting in our God, who constantly nourishes us, we bring our hungers to the eucharistic celebration today. We also name the hungers of our world. Like the fleeing Israelites fed in the desert, the Middle East and Europe are swamped with modern, desperate refugees also fleeing tyrants and pursuing armies.

Jesus could have distributed the bread and fish by himself. (He does in John’s Gospel – 6:11.) One could say the sheer number of people would have made that very difficult. From a practical perspective he needed help from his disciples. But Luke has written a gospel, so we look beyond "practicalities" for the message he has for believers.

Jesus needed those disciples to help him show God’s concern, not just a concern expressed in thoughts and feelings, but action – food for hungry bodies. Luke tells us the crowd "all ate and were satisfied." Giving them food alone would have filled their need, but they not only ate, they were "satisfied." Is Luke suggesting a comparable fullness of spirit? Hungry and needy people might have felt an absence of God and wondered: Did God know about their needs? Did God care? Would God do something? They had followed a new Moses to a "deserted place." There Jesus performed prophetic signs: he spoke about the kingdom of God and he healed the sick. Then he did what Moses did in another wilderness (Exodus 16:15), he fed them.

Did the crowd catch the connection to their past? Just as God had fed their ancestors in the desert, so God was doing it again? God did notice their need; God did care for them and God did something for them. Their God had not forgotten them after all. Was that the reason they were "satisfied?" They had experienced God with them. How satisfying, a bountiful meal with both friends and strangers! No first-class meals for the elite here; all ate the same food and were satisfied. It was a very full meal indeed! It is what God does for us at this Eucharist too: gathers us with friends and strangers: teaches us through the Word, heals us of the wounds caused by sin and feeds us a bountiful meal.

Jesus’ use of his disciples is a reminder to us current disciples. At this Eucharist God has seen our hungers and feeds us through Word and Sacrament. We offer our prayer of thanksgiving. Then, like those first disciples, we are being sent to distribute food to the hungry. Remember, the crowd was first taught, healed and then fed. Their hungers were both spiritual and physical. Now it is our turn, well-nourished disciples, to find ways to address the physical and spiritual needs of the hungry we, like the disciples, have noticed. These needs can seem overwhelming. But, as with the bread and fish, we take what the Lord has given us and give it freely to others. He will do the rest and all will be satisfied. The meal is also a promise: one day we will sit at the banquet feast where there will be no more hunger, no more illness and our satisfaction will be complete.

Luke doesn’t tell us the words Jesus used for the blessing of the loaves and fish. Commentators suggest the prayer would have been a Jewish thanksgiving prayer. "Blessed are you O Lord, our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth."

That’s what we celebrate at Eucharist – the verb means to give thanks. We gather in gratitude for the many ways God has fed hungers and healed what has been broken in our lives. We also bring our hopes that God will feed our present hungers and continue the healing begun in our baptism and given again at each Eucharist. We also come to the Eucharist with other personal, church and world needs. After the Creed today we will name our current concerns and will move to the table to offer our Eucharistic prayer – a prayer of thanks. Then, like the disciples, we look around and see the sick and hungry and respond out of our resources, trusting that Jesus will satisfy.

When people hear the first reading today will they know who Melchizedek is? He is the King of Salem (Jerusalem) and the priest of a Canaanite god called "God Most High." In the Letter to the Hebrews he is presented as a type for Jesus, who is also a priest forever. Melchizedek offers gifts to victorious Abram, who just defeated four kings and rescued his nephew Lot from captivity. Melchizedek enters the scene at this point and offers gifts of bread and wine to Abram, not booty or seized treasures, but bread and wine. Christians have seen these gifts as prefiguring the gift of Jesus’ self offering on the cross. Jesus would always be remembered in the gifts of bread and wine, and as Hebrews sees him, he is King and High Priest forever.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052916.cfm

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything

Genesis 14: 20

For the World Day of Peace 2014, Pope Francis wrote a beautiful document called "Fraternity: The Foundation and Pathway to Peace." He writes, "In God’s family, where all are sons and daughters of the same Father, and, because they are grafted to Christ, sons and daughters in the Son, there are no ‘disposable lives’. All men and women enjoy an equal and inviolable dignity. All are loved by God. All have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, who died on the Cross and rose for all. This is the reason why no one can remain indifferent before the lot of our brothers and sisters (3). This being said, it is easy to realize that fraternity is the foundation and pathway of peace" (4). Pope Francis then goes on to discuss the duties of this fraternity as written by Pope Paul VI in Populorum Progressio (3/26/1967).

Pope Paul VI writes, "we learn that the integral development of peoples is the new name of peace. . . not only individuals but nations too must encounter one another in a spirit of fraternity." As he says: "In this mutual understanding and friendship, in this sacred communion, we must also… work together to build the common future of the human race." Pope Paul VI goes on to state that "this duty falls to those who are most privileged. Their obligations are rooted in human and supernatural fraternity and are manifested in three ways: the duty of solidarity, which requires the richer nations to assist the less developed; the duty of social justice, which requires the realignment of relationships between stronger and weaker peoples in terms of greater fairness; and the duty of universal charity, which entails the promotion of a more humane world for all, a world in which each has something to give and to receive, without the progress of the one constituting an obstacle to the development of the other" (4). These are timely words for today’s world.

On this feast day of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we must each be willing to provide our own blood, sweat and tears to build up the fraternity, the brotherhood and sisterhood of human kind, and to promote a nation that stands in fraternity with the other nations of the world. We must seek to emulate the fraternal relationship that we see reflected in Abram and Melchizedek in our first reading.

To read Pope Francis’ entire message on fraternity, go to: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20131208_messaggio-xlvii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2014.html

Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries, Sacred Heart Cathedral--Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Then taking the fine loaves and the two fish,

and looking up to heaven, Jesus said the blessing over them,

broke them and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd

Reflection:

Trusting in our God, who constantly nourishes us, we bring our hungers to the Eucharistic celebration today. We also name the hungers of our world. Like the fleeing Israelites fed in the desert, the Middle East and Europe are swamped with modern, desperate refugees also fleeing tyrants and pursuing armies.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What personal hunger do I ask the Lord to feed at today’s Eucharist?
  • What hungers of others do I need to address in the Lord’s name?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"The use of the death penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Archie Billings #0471315 (On death row since 6/5/96)
  • Angel Guevara #0506556 (6/20/96)
  • Wallic C. Thomas #0405380 (8/9/96)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the webpage of the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://preacherexchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.preacherexchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

(These CDs have been updated twice in the last five years.)

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: http://www.preacherexchange.com

Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.



Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

 


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