The Lord Provides: and we….?

fish-and-loavesTaking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples. But there is more to this meal than physical sustenance; eating together is a symbol of unity. Instead of being dismissed and dispersed (v. 15), the crowds are welcomed into a new community. Once gathered Jesus takes on the role of the head of the family seen the actions of blessing and giving. Blessed is the normal giving of thanks before a meal, the responsibility of the head of the Jewish family. The actions and words are the same as those in the meal at Emmaus (Luke 24:30), and no doubt in other meals where Jesus presided over the disciple ‘family’. It is striking that the four verbs ‘take’, ‘bless’, ‘break’ and ‘give’ occur with minor variations not only in all six accounts of the two miraculous feedings and in that of the Emmaus meal, but also in all four accounts of the Last Supper (including 1 Cor. 11:23–24). It was a daily Jewish ritual, but in Christian memory it became filled with fuller meaning, as both these experiences in the ‘lonely place’ and the last meal in the upper room pointed forward to that great feast at which Jesus would be host to all his people of every race. Continue reading

The Lord Provides: compassion

fish-and-loavesThe miraculous feeding of the a very large number of people in the wilderness is one miracle that is told in each of the four canonical gospels. Despite the consistency of the narrative there are, in every age, those who reject the miraculous (Jesus inspired the people to share) or dismiss the narrative as apocryphal – or at best an altered memory of a large feast that imaged the coming banquet of the Kingdom. Keener (403) points out that nothing would be more memorable than a feeding miracle, especially in the context of the culture of their day. Keener offers four points: Continue reading

The Lord Provides: context

fish-and-loavesMatthew 14:13–21 13 When Jesus heard of it [the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. 14 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. 15 When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 (Jesus) said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” 17 But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” 18 Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” 19 and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over —twelve wicker baskets full. 21 Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children. Continue reading

What do you want?

What do you wantIn many and varied ways, we are so often asked: “What do you want.” Often the question is asked around the topic of food: what do you want for dinner tonight; at restaurants “what can I get you” or “what’ll you have.” We are sometimes asked what we want for birthdays or Christmas. There are many times and circumstances we hear the word: “What do you want?”

God comes to King Solomon in a dream and basically asks, “What do you want?” And suddenly the stakes are a whole lot higher than dinner or birthdays. And it raises the question for us – are we remotely prepared to answer that question? Are we ready to stand before God who is always reaching out to us and saying: “Ask something of me and I will give it to you” ? Continue reading

Treasure, Pearls, and Other Parables

fishing net[it was a busy week – so I am only just now posting the commentary for tomorrow’s gospel. Enjoy!]

Matthew 13:44-52 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Continue reading

Hearing the Pearls

A while ago I started a blog that I use to post bible study notes, Sunday homilies, and occasionally when I have the time, things I muse about. It was started about the same time we started the parish Facebook page and Twitter streams as a way to broaden the manner and means by which the parish communicates to parishioners and any interested person. To date I have posted 570 entries, there are 337 followers, and the blog has been viewed – and I find this amazing – 31,188 times. Continue reading

Peas, Pigweed, and Prayer

pigweedBack in the day when I owned a home in the Catoctin hills of Northern Virginia, one summer I decided to plant a garden. I knew nothing about the endeavor, but I did check a book out of the library. I decided to try only three things: tomatoes, yellow squash and peas. It wasn’t going to be a large project, but I have to admit I had an inner vision of this garden, rows in prefect, soil turned up just so, and weed free – all due to my meticulous care and fastidiousness in proper vegetable garden maintenance. My neighbor Bill Leigh, came over one day. He explained the difference between peas and this other thing in my garden which he called pigweed. There was difference that he could see and that I could pretend to see. Of course I wanted to weed the whole thing right then and there. Bill said it was too late to do that as I would just uproot my entire crop of peas. Continue reading

This is our life

Franciscans34The movement founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the early 13th century was something unique compared to the then existing forms of “religious life.” The models of such life, spirituality, and the ways to be in the world were: monastic life, the life of the hermit, or a priest assigned to one place to serve out his days. And then came the Franciscans.

Europe had already experienced the Irish monks wandering on pilgrimage as a penitential practice, but not a way of life. From the beginning, Francis and the small band of friars practiced a type of ascetic homelessness. Francis himself spent a good portion of the early years (1209-1215) wandering, especially in central and eastern Italy. Francis and the early friars practiced peregrination pro Christo (“wandering for the sake of Christ”). Continue reading

Mustard Seed and Yeast

mustard plantsThe Mustard Seed and Yeast. There is much debate over the meaning of these two short parables. Some Christians believe that the imagery of the parables is meant to portray the presence of evil within professing Christendom. This is due primarily to an understanding of the Kingdom of Heaven as a “mystery” encompassing Christendom, understood as organized Christianity. Christendom as a whole contains evil elements mixed with the good, so both parables are usually viewed as picturing that evil. The birds nesting in the mustard tree are unbelievers. It is also pointed out that yeast is often a symbol of evil (Exod 12:15, 19; Matt 16:6, 11–12; 1 Cor 5:6–8; Gal 5:9; but see Lev 7:13–14; 23:17) and asserted that the parable of the yeast portrays the growth of evil within Christendom. This view of the parables is often held in conscious opposition to a view which understands the images of the growth of the Kingdom in the two parables as indicating the ultimate conversion of the world to Christianity before Christ returns. Continue reading

Our impatience with weeds

wheatOur Impatience with the Weeds. The landowner (God) is quite patient and accepts that there will be “weeds” among the harvest – it is the lot of the human enterprises. Some people do not/will not/cannot hear the Word sown in to their lives. The laborers in the parable are quick to want to eradicate the poison. I think history has shown that we reach beyond our calling – not to simply point out error – but to extinguish the source and root of that error. In the first centuries of the Church, when some of the epic battles over theological orthodoxy and heresy were waged, executions were not part of the Church’s response. There might be condemnation, banishment and loss of position, but people were not put to death. Yet a millennia later the island nation of England has its book of Protestant and Catholic martyrs as witness to our human reaction to “weeds” among us, despite the Gospel message. Continue reading