Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Month: July 2018

29 July – Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Gospel Jn 6:1-15

“This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.”

Of all the miracle stories recorded in the Gospels, this story of the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes is one that really captures our imagination, and not just because it is recounted in all four Gospels.

The scene is set so simply and effectively.

The people are following Jesus as they had witnessed his many healings and heard his profound and challenging teaching. They are so intrigued by this man that they follow him beyond the point where they are able to even meet their own basic needs.

When he sees them coming he recognises their need immediately – they will be hungry before long, and lo, there is nowhere nearby where they could purchase what they need, nor is there enough money around that would be able to pay for it.

This is not merely a miracle where Jesus somehow gets everyone to simply share what they already have. No, this is something truly miraculous. The gift of a small boy of five barely loaves and two fish was miraculously made to be enough for five thousand men, not mentioning the women and the children.

This is something worth considering – Jesus did not simply wave a magic wand and have food appear out of nowhere. No, instead he used what he had, and that was given him by the small boy.

We should remember this when we come up against our own troubles. Rarely have we needed to feed 5000+ people, but we do have our own struggles which are oftentimes insurmountable to our own efforts alone. It is in these times that we need to mimic the small boy in today’s Gospel who gave all that he had, but did not rely on his efforts alone.

Point to Ponder

On perceiving the problem of feeding so many hungry people, [the boy] shared the little he had brought with him: five loaves and two fish (cf. Jn 6:9). The miracle was not worked from nothing, but from a first modest sharing of what a simple lad had brought with him. Jesus does not ask us for what we do not have. Rather, he makes us see that if each person offers the little he has the miracle can always be repeated: God is capable of multiplying our small acts of love and making us share in his gift

Benedict XVI, Angelus Message 29 July 2012

8 July 2018 – Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Gospel Mark Mk 6:1-6

He was amazed at their lack of faith.

In our moments of doubt or questioning we often find ourselves searching the scriptures, reading the stories of the disciples and those who had the opportunity to meet Jesus in the flesh with a sense of envy, thinking to ourselves, ‘if only that had been me, then I would not be plagued by such doubts!’

Yet, time and again, we read of encounters such as the one before us today, where people are confronted with the reality of the man Jesus, walking and talking, preaching and performing all manner of miracles, and yet, despite the evidence before their very eyes, the people still lacked faith.

It seems incredible to us that they could be like that. And indeed, even Jesus ‘was amazed at their lack of faith.’

Sadly however, how often do we fall into that same trap – distracted by our own plans, our minds are dead and buried to the realities before us. We are numb to the presence of Christ in our life, and so we are miss the opportunity to see Christ work the miracles in our lives that he wants to work.

How then do we ensure that we are awake to the reality before us? It may start with something simple, like putting away our phone, or whatever else that might be distracting us. It might be that we need to take more care to attend to our daily chores with a spirit of gratitude for all that we have, or that we begin to actively look for the features of Christ in those around us. This ‘living in the moment’ is not a kind of Oprah-Winfrey-esque feel-good activity, but a mode of constantly comparing our “I” to Him who gives reality meaning.

Only then, can we grow in faith, in familiarity with Christ, who will only come to us where we are, calling us forward to union with Him.

Point to Ponder

‘The danger facing the Western world … is that man today, precisely because of the immensity of his knowledge and power, surrenders before the question of truth. This means that, in the end, reason gives way before the pressure of other interests and the lure of efficiency, and is forced to recognize this as the ultimate criterion.’

Pope Benedict XVI, Address the Sapienza University of Rome, 17 January 2008.

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