Mon, 20 July 2015
2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18
Today's liturgy brings together several strands of Old Testament expectation to reveal Jesus as Israel's promised Messiah and king, the Lord who comes to feed His people.
Notice the parallels between today's Gospel and First Reading. Both Elisha and Jesus face a crowd of hungry people with only a few "barley" loaves. We hear similar words about how impossible it will be to feed the crowd with so little. And in both the miraculous multiplication of bread satisfies the hungry and leaves food left over.
The Elisha story looks back to Moses, the prophet who fed God's people in the wilderness (see Exodus 16). Moses prophesied that God would send a prophet like him (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). The crowd in today's Gospel, witnessing His miracle, identifies Jesus as that prophet.
The Gospel today again shows Jesus to be the Lord, the good shepherd, who makes His people lie down on green grass and spreads a table before them (see Psalm 23:1,5).
The miraculous feeding is a sign that God has begun to fulfill His promise, which we sing of in today's Psalm - to give His people food in due season and satisfy their desire (see Psalm 81:17).
But Jesus points to the final fulfillment of that promise in the Eucharist. He does the same things He does at the Last Supper - He takes the loaves, pronounces a blessing of thanksgiving (literally, "eucharist"), and gives the bread to the people (see Matthew 26:26). Notice, too, that 12 baskets of bread are left over, one for each of the apostles.
These are signs that should point us to the Eucharist - in which the Church founded on the apostles continues to feed us with the living bread of His body.
In this Eucharist, we are made one body with the Lord, as we hear in today's Epistle. Let us resolve again, then, to live lives worthy of such a great calling.
Mon, 13 July 2015
As the Twelve return from their first missionary journey in today's Gospel, our readings continue to reflect on the authority and mission of the Church.
Jeremiah says in the First Reading that Israel's leaders, through godlessness and fanciful teachings, had mislead and scattered God's people. He promises God will send a shepherd, a king and son of David, to gather the lost sheep and appoint for them new shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:23).
The crowd gathering on the green grass (see Mark 6:39) in today's Gospel is the start of the remnant that Jeremiah promised would be brought back to the meadow of Israel. The people seem to sense that Jesus is the Lord, the good shepherd (see John 10:11), the king they've been waiting for (see Hosea 3:1-5).
Jesus is moved to pity, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel's need for a shepherd to succeed him (see Numbers 27:17). And as Moses appointed Joshua, Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding His people on earth.
Jesus had said there were other sheep who did not belong to Israel's fold, but would hear His voice and be joined to the one flock of the one shepherd (see John 10:16). In God's plan, the Church is to seek out first the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then to bring all nations into the fold (see Acts 13:36; Romans 1:16).
Paul, too, in today's Epistle, sees the Church as a new creation, in which those nations who were once far off from God are joined as "one new person" with the children of Israel.
As we sing in today's Psalm, through the Church, the Lord, our good shepherd, still leads people to the verdant pastures of the kingdom, to the restful waters of baptism; He still anoints with the oil of confirmation, and spreads the Eucharistic table before all people, filling their cups to overflowing.