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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

August 2, 2009

Last week we saw Jesus as the Good Shepherd feeding the 5,000 hungry people as an example of the ways that God takes care of us. This week we get more feeding narratives in Exodus and John that remind us of the source of our daily nourishment.

The response of the people in each narrative is significant. The whole Israelite community that has just safely fled Egypt is now grumbling because they do not have the comforts of home and they are now hungry because their resources have been depleted. Moses intercedes for them and God sends bread from heaven each morning to provide for their daily nourishment. While they eat the food they have been provided, they do not quite know how to respond to the Lord’s generosity. Hints of dissatisfaction abound. In John’s Gospel, they realize they witnessed an extraordinary event and go to great lengths to seek out Jesus who is the agent of this miraculous feeding. They seek to know more about this man and the source of his power.

Jesus tells the spiritually hungry people that they are to believe in Jesus as the one sent by God to bring about the fullness of the Lord’s kingdom. He declares, “I am the bread of Life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” His “I am” statement is provocative because only God is “I am who am” and Jesus puts himself on equal footing with God. However, many people believe in him and desire the bread from heaven that gives life to the world.

During these days of summer when our schedules slow down a little we can take some time to examine those areas deep in our souls that need nourishment. We need the quiet where we can spend time with the Risen Lord who can give us the food that endures for eternal life. We need to spend time with his Cross even though it will bring us much pain. The Cross of love is what allows us to be close to God who wants to take care of our needs and pains. When we accept the Cross, we can accept Christ’s ongoing, consoling nourishment of our hungry areas. We come to greater belief and we continue to beg Jesus to “give us this bread always.”

Quote for the Week

As I watched; thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out form where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened and the books were opened.

As the visions during the night continued, I saw: One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of Man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14)

Themes for this Week’s Masses

Poor Moses. He has such a difficult time with the Hebrew people. After the people receive their fill, they complain that they only get manna each morning in contrast to the lush foods they ate in Egypt. Moses feels the weight of the people’s grumblings, but God asks him to persevere. Even Miriam and Aaron test Moses, but the Lord upholds Moses’ actions and calls him his own special servant. When Miriam is afflicted with leprosy, both she and Aaron ask for forgiveness for their grumblings. Shortly thereafter, Moses sends a delegation into the Promised Land for forty days. They report that the people who reside in the lands are formidable and that the Hebrews do not have enough resources to overtake them. As the people grumble once again, God punishes them by having them wander in the desert for forty years before they can enter the land they are to inherit. Moses ends with a plea to the people to remember the Lord’s kindness and to honor their part of the covenant. Choose life, he exhorts them. The laws of God give life.

This is an eventful week within Matthew’s Gospel as Jesus learns that his good friend John the Baptizer has been killed, and out of compassion, he feeds the crowds who seek him out and gather around him for healing. He then strengthens the faith of the disciples when he calms the storm and asks Peter to step out onto the water to come to him. Next, he heals the insistent Canaanite woman’s daughter even though she is not a Jew and cures the boy who is possessed by a demon when his disciples are not able to effectively cure him. Greater prayer is needed. His transfiguration assures us that even though he will have to die, he will ultimately triumph.

Saints of the Week

John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Ars, is honored on Tuesday for his long-standing practice of hearing confessions for twelve to sixteen hours a day. Visitors and pilgrims sought his pastoral counsel as a parish priest from 1818-1859.

The Dedication of the Basilica of Mary Major in Rome is celebrated on Wednesday. This is the church in which Ignatius of Loyola celebrated his Mass of Thanksgiving as a priest. It is also the church were the first crèche was set up in honor of Christ’s birth. The basilica is a fourth century church that is older and larger than the other Roman churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Once Mary was proclaimed the Mother of God in 431, the church was repaired and renovated in her honor.

Thursday is the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord when Jesus is revealed to his closest friends as the dearly beloved Son of God in a flash of dazzling white. He appears with Moses, the Law-giver, and Elijah, the prophet, high atop a mountain. When he comes down the mountain with Peter, James and John, he joins the other disciples to foretell his Passion and death.

On Friday, we remember Sixtus II, Pope, and companions for their witness to the faith during the Valerian persecution in 257. Sixtus was presiding at Mass in the catacombs with seven deacons when the Roman authorities beheaded him and killed six deacons immediately and Deacon Lawrence three days later. Sixtus is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer in the Latin Rite.

Saturday is the memorial of Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Dominicans. He was sent to southern France to combat the heretical Albigensians who contended that all matter was evil and good could only be achieved by practicing austere ascetical habits. Dominic was austere himself and he recruited other preachers to help spread orthodoxy across Europe. He founded a new order with highly educated priests and Dominic itinerantly traveled to many cities to assist people practice Christian charity.

Vandalism to the Chapel Windows at Cheverus

The chapel windows at Cheverus High School were broken by rocks thrown by vandals. These windows contained depictions of the early life of the founding Jesuits. We are saddened by this tragic event as these windows are treasures of the Catholic community in Maine and a great source of pride for the school.


  1. I'm so sad about this incident. I'm praying for the person(s) who violated our beautiful chapel, that they will come to realize they've damaged a lot more than just windows and that they will take responsibility for their actions.

  2. Thank you. The best gift we can receive these days is your prayers.

  3. A bit off-topic- but it's good to see another Mainer in the spiritual blogosphere!

    Here's what I've been doing, with words and pictures:

    (I'm also a Dominican lay brother)