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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

18th SUNDAY (B) August 2, 2015

Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15; Psalm 78; Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24; John 6: 24-35

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

PRE-NOTE:

We have posted on our webpage a review of PREACHING MATTERS: A PRAXIS FOR PREACHERS by Bishop Sylvester Ryan and Deborah L. Wilhelm. Go to http://www.preacherexchange.com/latest.htm and click on "Book Review."



A friend of mine has cancer. She has had to go for chemo and deal with the side effects. I know you know how debilitating that can be. If we haven't gone through it ourselves, we know family and friends who have. My friend is widowed and her children live a long way from her. They call her every day asking, "Mom, how are you doing?" They take turns visiting, but they have their own children and jobs, so it's hard to visit frequently. But my friend says, to reassure her kids, "Don't worry, I’ve got Mary."

Mary is her life-long friend. Both are retired teachers and Mary goes with her for treatments. When she is too sick Mary cooks and shops for her. So, my friend tells her anxious children, "Don't worry, I've got Mary." Both my friend and her children always say the same thing when talking about Mary, "Thank God for Mary."The children say, "It sounds like Mary's first name is, "Thank God," because whenever we speak of her we always say, 'Thank God for Mary."'

A lot of people in need receive help at just the right time from family, friends and even strangers, who seem to show up from nowhere. When that happens the recipients of the kindness will express their gratitude with a sincere thanks and even a small gift of appreciation to the one who helped them. But some people see even more than a helping hand when they are in need. We can say they are people whose eyes are "wide open." In terms of today’s gospel they "see." In other words, they can read the signs. They not only see the person who helps them, but the One who sent them help. So, like my friends, they say, "Thank God for________." Fill in the blanks, I'm sure you can.

Today's gospel takes place right after the crowds ate the multiplied bread Jesus provided them. He fed them because they were hungry. Hungry and needy people need to be taking care of – that's basic in the Gospels. But Jesus reminds them, even though they have been well fed now, they will be hungry again. Educators would call this a "teachable moment." Jesus is taking advantage of the opportunity to remind them to put their efforts into getting a more-enduring food, not only for their bodies, but food for a deeper life. He is speaking of himself, of course. He is the food that will not let them down; that gives a new life which starts now and will not fade with the passage of time. In fact, it will grow even richer.

Jesus certainly knows we have physical needs and hungers: especially with a sick family member; after the loss of a loved one; during hard economic times; in times of war and the threat of more war. But surely he means more to us than help for the immediate situations we find ourselves in. Of course we hope our loved ones will get well; the economy turn around; peace comes, etc. But if things improve, will we have less need for him in our lives? Or, do we see that Jesus can feed our long – lasting hungers? He offers to be the bread that will last and not run out on us, "true bread from heaven."

When the people ask Jesus, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" he responds, pointing to himself, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one God sent."They respond by pointing to their past, "Moses gave us bread in our hard time and we were able to travel across the desert." Jesus says, "Well, Moses may have fed you bread, but God was the provider of the bread. Couldn't you read the signs, it was God who gave the bread." Jesus is asking them to open their eyes and "see," – that is, have faith in him.

Jesus is speaking to us about right now, because God still gives us "bread from heaven." My friend saw God doing that in her friend Mary. She said that God had sent her Mary, "Mary is my God-sent."

That's something for each of us to reflect on today, isn't it? Are we grateful for the help we have gotten in hard times and do we see God as the Provider of that help? If we have read the signs, if we had "wide open eyes," then we are grateful for those who fed us bread when we needed it.

We are thankful for the Provider who sent us the friend who said, "Don't worry, I'll be there with you"; for the teacher who spends extra time to help us pass a test; for the catechist who helped us see God in new ways; for the grandparent, uncle or aunt who lent us the money to finish school, or helped us find a job; for the church volunteer who helped us look beyond our immediate needs to see the desperate needs of others. They, like Moses in the desert, were the feeders, but God was the One who provided the bread. Did we see the "sign"? How do we respond to this bountiful and generous God, who provides nourishing bread in so many shapes and sizes? We can take our clue from the 14th century Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart who said, "If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is ‘Thank you,’ that will be enough."

Which is what the word Eucharist means, "Thank you." Thank you to our God, the One who provides the lasting bread, Jesus Christ. Listen to how often we will say "Thank you," or express gratitude, during our Eucharistic prayer. When we hear it, we can recall the people God sent to feed our hungers, physical and spiritual – the feeders. Then say, "Thank you," to the God who provided that bread."If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is ‘Thank you,’ that will be enough."

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

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/080215.cfm

QUOTABLE


All are but parts of one stupendous whole.

Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.

----Alexander Pope, The Essay on Man
 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

You should put away the old self of your former way of life. . . and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holy truth.–Ephesians 4: 22-24

I got to thinking this morning how wonderful a shower makes me feel, like a new person. It is no wonder that the Church uses the symbol of water to visualize the grace of baptism to new life. We often take for granted the availability of water here in the USA, while, in many countries around the world, water is a luxury.

Here at Sacred Heart, our Global Outreach committee has been trying to raise money for a well in Kenya. Because of the depth needed to reach water, the well will cost approximately $24,000. Vince and Judy Schneider have been collecting old cell phones as a fundraiser and also asking for donations in $14 increments for each foot of well. They can be reached after Masses at the Fair Trade table on the third Sunday of every month. It has been slow-going so I want to give you a little background information. Perhaps, during this hot August, you and your family could think of ways to help raise funds for the families in Kenya who will be helped by this well.

The well will be located at the Ilbissil Township Primary School which is on public land that belongs to the government under the ministry of education. Currently, the nearest source of water is a community well about 5 kilometers away (a little over 3 miles). There are some natural wells in or near the community but the water is unhygienic for human consumption and is mainly used for livestock. The school will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the well and will also manage the project. Surrounding the primary school is a slum, about five churches, one secondary school, and two nursery schools. These will be the direct beneficiaries of the water project. The total number of people to be served is about 3000 that includes 800 students and 2200 from the surrounding community. The Ilbissil community will provide the manual labor where needed and keep the well secure.

The Global Outreach Committee is working with Myles of Great Hopes, a local non-profit based in Cary and our liaison with the Ilbissil community. You can learn more at their website: http://www.mylesofgreathopes.org/wordpress/ 

The next time you shower or you bathe your kids, think about the families in the Ilbissil Township and what a difference you will make in their lives by helping build this well. Put on your new self.

-------Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries Sacred Heart Cathedral--Raleigh, N.C.

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:

The crowd said to Jesus,

"What sign can you do, that we may see

and believe in you?

What can we do?

Reflection:

Jesus is the food that will always be there to nourish us. He gives us a new life which starts now and will not fade with the passage of time. In fact, it will grow even richer. Do we "see" that Jesus can feed our long-lasting hungers? He offers to be the bread that will last and not run out on us, "true bread from heaven."

So we ask ourselves:

  • For what are we hungering these days?
  • How can we begin to fill this hunger?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor,"
—Pope Francis, Oct. 23, in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law.

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:

  • Lawrence J. Peterson #0320825 (On death row since 12/12/96)
  • Henry L. Wallace #0422350 (1/29/97)
  • Terrence Taylor #0539901 (2/18/97)

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

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the webpage of the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://www.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 Or jboll@preacherexchange.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,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626

 


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