17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading 2 Kings 4:42-44
2nd Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Responsorial: Psalm 145:10-11, 15-18
Gospel: John 6:1-15
A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing. (John 6:2)
If you want a key to understanding the Gospel of John, you could probably do no better than to focus on the word “sign.” In the first half of his Gospel (chapters 1-11), John recounts seven signs, or miracles, that Jesus performed. Then in the second half (chapters 12-21), he devotes all his time to the greatest sign of all: Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
In today’s Gospel, we see a large crowd following Jesus because they were impressed by these signs. Who else could turn water into wine or raise a dead boy with a mere word? They wanted to see more, and Jesus didn’t let them down. He performed yet another sign: feeding more than five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes!
Over the next few Sundays, we will hear how Jesus explains this miracle and how important it is for us. He’ll tell us that this multiplied bread points to the true Bread of Life—his own Eucharistic flesh, which he will give “for the life of the world” (John 6:51). He’ll tell us that this special Bread of Life is greater even than the manna that Moses gave the Israelites in the desert (6:32). And best of all, he’ll promise to raise up “on the last day” everyone who eats this bread with faith and trust in him (6:54).
These are only three of the many promises Jesus has made to us. He promises to be with us, to teach us, to heal us, and to lift us up. He promises to feed us with his very life, and after this life, he promises to open heaven itself for us. This is how good Jesus is!
Today is a perfect day to fix your eyes on Jesus, the Bread of Life offered at Mass, and thank him for everything he has promised you. It’s also a perfect day to tell him that you want to keep following him so that you can receive each and every blessing he has in store for you.
“Thank you, Jesus, for giving us your Bread of Life!”
Sunday, July 29, 2018
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion:
- In the first reading, the prophet Elisha feeds a hundred people with “twenty barley loaves.” Elisha speaks these words to the man with the loaves: “Give it to the people to eat.” The man replies with these words: “How can I set this before a hundred people?” The reading ends with these words: Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “For thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.
- This story prefigures Christ’s miracle of the multiplication of loaves described in the Gospel reading? In what ways are these two miraculous incidents similar?
- In what ways are they different?
- The Responsorial Psalm begins with these words: Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might. It continues with these words: The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. The psalm ends with these words: The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.”
- The Responsorial Psalm speaks of the Lord giving us our food in due season. In the “Our Father,” we ask the Lord for “our daily bread.” In what ways does the Lord give you your food in due season and provide you with daily sustenance?
- The Responsorial Psalm ends with these words: The Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth. How important do you think it is to call upon the Lord in a daily time of personal prayer? Why?
- In the letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds us how we, as Christians, are called to live together in humility and unity: Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Notice that he uses the words “one” or “unity” nine times in these few words.
- What are some of the characteristics of this call to unity that St. Paul describes?
- What are some of the ways you try to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace with others in your family, in your parish, and with friends and neighbors? Also with fellow Catholics? Other Christians?
- The Gospel reading relates the story of the multiplication of the loaves, which itself prefigures the Eucharist. The bread in this story sustains earthly life, while the Eucharist sustains us for eternity and is the manifestation of Christ’s boundless love for us. It is a meal we share together in humility as Catholics, a sign and cause of unity. What steps can you take to deepen your experience of Christ, and his love, when you receive the Eucharist?
- The Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life”. The Greek word “Eucharist” itself means “thanksgiving”. How thankful are you for this great gift of Christ?
- Why do you think Jesus withdrew again to the mountain alone when he realized that the people were going to come and carry him off to make him king?
- The meditation is a reflection on the multiplication of bread in the Gospel reading, the many other miracles Jesus performed, and the many promises he made. With regard to Jesus’ promises, it reminds us that “He promises to be with us, to teach us, to heal us, and to lift us up. He promises to feed us with his very life, and after this life, he promises to open heaven itself for us. This is how good Jesus is!”
- What impact does the many miracles Jesus performed, and the many promises he made, have on your faith in him as Lord and Savior?
- The meditation ends with these words: “Today is a perfect day to fix your eyes on Jesus, the Bread of Life offered at Mass, and thank him for everything he has promised you. It’s also a perfect day to tell him that you want to keep following him so that you can receive each and every blessing he has in store for you.” What are some additional ways you can “fix your eyes on Jesus,” “thank him for everything,” and keep following him”?
Take some time now to pray and thank the Lord for the many graces that come from receiving him, the “Bread of Life.” Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.
“Thank you, Jesus, for giving us your Bread of Life!”