Ordinary Time
Monday of the Eighteenth Week

“We remember the fish we used to eat without cost in Egypt, and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” (Numbers 11:5.)

In commenting on these verses from today’s First Reading, Saint John Chrysostom writes:

“Prosperity has a way of bringing about the downfall and complete dissolution of the unwary. Thus the Jews, who from the beginning enjoyed the favor of God, repeatedly turned to the law of the kingdom of the Gentiles. When they were in the desert, after receiving manna, they kept recalling onions [and garlic]!” (Homilies on the Gospel of John, 85.)



Collect
Draw near to your servants, O Lord,
and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,
that, for those who glory in you
as their Creator and guide,
you may restore what you have created
and keep safe what you have restored.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





The new law of our Lord

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)

Ordinary Time
Monday of the Eighteenth Week

An excerpt from
The Letter of Barnabas
Saint Barnabas

God has abolished the sacrifices of the old law so that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which does not bind by slavish compulsion, might have an offering not made by man. On another occasion he says to them: When I brought your forefathers out of Egypt, I gave them no commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. I said not a word about them. What I did command was this: Do not contrive any evil against one another, and do not love perjury.

We are not stupid; surely we ought to understand our Father’s kindly purpose in this. He does not want us to go astray as they did, nor to ask how we are to approach him. Here is what he says to us: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken heart; the fragrance pleasing to the Lord is a soul that gives glory to its Maker. You see, my brothers, we must carefully seek after our own salvation; otherwise, one who is bent on deceiving us will insinuate himself and turn us aside from the path that leads to life.

God spoke of this once again when he said to them: On such a day you are keeping a fast that will not carry your cry to heaven. Is it that sort of fast that I require, a day of mortification like that? But to us he says: Is it not this that I demand of you as a fast—loose the fetters of injustice, untie the knots of all contracts that involve extortion, set free those who have been crushed, tear up every unjust agreement. Share your food with the starving; when you meet a naked man, give him clothing; welcome the homeless into your house.

Accordingly, we must flee from all vanity and show an utter hatred for the deeds of the evil way. Do not turn inward and live only for yourselves as though already assured of salvation; join together rather and seek the common good. For, as Scripture says: Shame on those who are wise in their own judgment and think themselves clever. Rather, let us become spiritual; let us be a perfect dwelling place for God.

As far as we can, we should dwell upon the fear of God and strive to keep his commandments, finding our delight in his observances. The Lord will judge the world without respect to persons; everyone will receive his just deserts; if he has been good, his good works will go before him; if wicked, the wages of sin will lie in wait for him. We must never relax our efforts as though our calling were already realized. Never let us fall asleep in a state of sin, lest the prince of wickedness gain power over us and snatch us away from the kingdom of the Lord.

My brothers, grasp this further point: You see the Israelites rejected, even after the many signs and wonders worked among them; let us then see to it that we are not found among those of whom Scripture says: Many are called, but few are chosen.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 


— The Lord’s Day —

Ordinary Time
Sunday of the Eighteenth Week

“On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:15.)

Saint Ambrose of Milan offers the following insight on this verse from today’s First Reading:

“That this is heavenly food is demonstrated by the person speaking: “I shall rain upon you bread from heaven.” Manna is a cause (aition), because God, who waters minds with the dew of wisdom, uses it as an instrument. And manna is a kind of matter (hyle), because souls that see it and taste it are delighted and ask whence it comes, manna which is more splendid that light and sweeter than honey. They can be answered with a chain of quotations from Scripture: “This is the bread that the Lord gave to you to eat,” and “This is the Word of God which God has established” or ordained. By this bread the souls of the prudent are fed and delighted, since it is fair and sweet, illuminating the souls of the hearers with the splendor of truth and drawing them on with the sweetness of the virtues.” (Letter 55)

View Words of THE WORD study of today’s Gospel


Collect
Draw near to your servants, O Lord,
and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness,
that, for those who glory in you
as their Creator and guide,
you may restore what you have created
and keep safe what you have restored.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





Hope of life
is the beginning and end of our faith

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)

Ordinary Time
Sunday of the Eighteenth Week


An excerpt from
The Letter of Barnabas

Saint Barnabas

Greetings, sons and daughters. In the name of the Lord who loves us, peace be to you.

Because the Lord has granted you an abundance of blessings, I rejoice immeasurably in your blessed and glorious company. You have received abundantly that indwelling grace which is the Spirit’s gift, and for this reason I hope in my own salvation and I give thanks all the more when I see the bountiful fullness of the Lord’s Spirit pouring over you. I have longed so much for you that when I saw you I was overwhelmed.

I am now convinced and fully aware that I have learned much by speaking with you, for the Lord accompanied me on the road to righteousness, and so I am driven in all ways to love you more than my own life. For surely there is a great store of faith and charity within you because of your hope for life in Christ. Therefore, I have been thinking that if my concern for you inspires me to pass on to you a portion of what I have received, then I will be rewarded for ministering to souls such as yours. Consequently, I am writing you, that you may have perfect knowledge along with your faith.

The Lord has given us these three basic doctrines: hope for eternal life, the beginning and end of our faith; justice, the beginning and end of righteousness; and love, which bears cheerful and joyous witness to the works of righteousness. Now the Lord has made the past and present known to us through his prophets, and he has given us the ability to taste the fruits of the future beforehand. Thus, when we see prophecies fulfilled in their appointed order, we ought to grow more fully and deeply in awe of him. Let me suggest a few things—not as a teacher, but as one of you—which should bring you joy in the present situation.

When evil days are upon us and the worker of malice gains power, we must attend to our own souls and seek to know the ways of the Lord. In those times reverential fear and perseverance will sustain our faith, and we will find need of forbearance and self-restraint as well. Provided that we hold fast to these virtues and look to the Lord, then wisdom, understanding, knowledge and insight will make joyous company with them.

Truly, the Lord has revealed to us through the prophets that he has no need of sacrifice, burnt offerings or oblations. He says in one place: Your endless sacrifices, what are they to me? says the Lord. I have had my fill of holocausts; I do not want the fat of your lambs, nor the blood of your bulls and goats, nor your presence in my sight. Indeed, who has made these demands of you? No more will you trample my courts. Your sacrifices of fine flour are in vain; your incense is loathsome to me; I cannot bear your feasts of the new moon, nor your sabbaths.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 


Words of THE WORD
Sunday of the Eighteenth Week

εὐαγγελίζω (euaggelizo)
“to announce the Good News of victory in battle”

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus
nor His disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum
looking (ζητοῦντες, zetountes) for Jesus.
And when they found Him
across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking (ζητεῖτέ, zeteite)
for Me not because you saw signs (σημεῖα, semeia)
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:24-26)


θεωρέω (theoreo)
(“to perceive, discover, ponder a deeper meaning”)

When we left the crowd last week, they had been fed abundantly by Jesus Whose pronouncement: ‘take, thank and distribute’ transformed meager portions of food into an abundance that would shock any matriarch’s grand Sunday meal. While the crowds sought Jesus because of the “signs” He was performing for the sick, Jesus initiated the feeding and gave them food in abundance as an act of mercy or pity (see Mark 6:34, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time). While the crowd sang His praises as a prophet, Jesus withdrew to the solitude of the mountain and later walked on water to Capernaum (John 6:15-23) thus setting the stage for the next event in the Bread of Life discourse.

The Gospel proclamation this Sunday opens with the crowds searching for Jesus and then getting into boats with great urgency when they realize He has gone from the place of the Feeding. When the crowds ‘find’ Jesus, He confronts them: “you are looking (ζητεῖτέ, zeteite) for Me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”


As far as Jesus is concerned, the Feeding is a σημεῖα (semeia) and as a σημεῖα one is called to make a decision to act on the σημεῖα (recall last week’s discussion of σημεῖα). One might argue that the crowds did in fact ‘do something’ as a result of the σημεῖα: they went looking for Jesus. But were they really looking for Him? Jesus declares that the crowd was not really looking for Him, but for the food He provided earlier. On one hand, it is hard to blame the crowd. Life in general and the economy specifically were very difficult in first-century Galilee. While some made a good living on the sea, others did not know when or where they would eat next. But on the other hand when it comes to the Feeding, it is a σημεῖα and there is no getting around the fact that a σημεῖα calls for a decision to act in a particular way and do a particular work.

The point is underscored further by the use of the Greek verb ζητεω (zeteo). ζητεω, translated in this Sunday’s text as “to seek,” implies more than just looking around for something lost. In contemporary usage, ‘searching’ is practically synonymous with ‘googling’ and tends to be about pieces of data or information. In antiquity, ζητεω (zeteo) was used in reference to people being lost or found — a sense of being lost or found in the living of life, having or loosing a sense of purpose, destiny or direction in life. ζητεω (zeteo) does not necessarily refer to a physical loss or find when referencing people, it speaks more about the connection, the relationship, the link people have with one another.

Yet what is even more fascinating about ζητεω (zeteo) is that involves the work of searching for the other, on the other’s terms! Yes, I realize this sound confusing – how can you search, guided by the other’s terms, when you are not connected to the other person? But that is precisely what the σημεῖα is ordered to do, especially throughout the episodes of Jesus’ Ministry in John’s Gospel. When Jesus feeds the crowd that is the σημεῖα (semeia) and it that provides the ‘terms’ for ζητεω: seeking Jesus as Person for the connection, the relationship, the encounter He offers as gift.

Saint Augustine commented: “It is as if he said, “You seek me to satisfy the flesh, not the Spirit.” How many seek Jesus for no other objective than to get some kind of temporal benefit! One has a business that has run into problems, and he seeks the intercession of the clergy; another is oppressed by someone more powerful than himself, and he flies to the church. Another desires intervention with someone over whom he has little influence. One person wants this, and another person wants that. The church is filled with these kinds of people! Jesus is scarcely sought after for his own sake. Here too he says, you seek me for something else; seek me for my own sake. He insinuates the truth that He Himself is that food “that endures to eternal life.”” (Tractates on the Gospel of John)

Certainly there is much that speaks this Sunday to the heart of living as Jesus’ disciple. At the very heart of discipleship is the encounter with the Person, Jesus Christ. That encounter, that “sign” to use Johannine terminology, initially requires 2 response actions: metanoia (the ongoing, daily conversion of heart, mind and body from selfishness to selflessness as lived by Jesus) and believing that Who Jesus is as well as what He says and does is THE only way to live life. In so doing, life is lived in the mode of response — acting based on the fact that “I” do not search for Jesus. “I” let myself be found by Jesus on His terms and then respond by living life marked by daily conversion and believing. Such an approach to living lessens the possibility of creating a ‘comfortable Jesus’ that is synonymous with mere niceness. Being found by Jesus and responding properly displaces ‘me-centered entitlement’ and opens the horizons of a Divinely animated and abundant life to which I can only respond: ‘thank you — and — how may I serve sacrificially and joyfully in Jesus’ Name?’





Memorial
Saint Alphonsus Liguori

“You shall treat this fiftieth year as sacred. You shall proclaim liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to your own property, each of you to your own family.” (Leviticus 25:10.)

Origen of Alexandria (part 2 of Pope Benedict’s reflections on Origen) comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“Who is there who has grasped the mind of Christ so well that he knows the meaning of the seventh year of freedom of Hebrew slaves and the remission of debts and the intermission of the cultivation of the holy land? Over and above the feast of every seventh year is the feast called the jubilee. No one can ever come near divining its precise meaning or the true import of the prescriptions enjoined by it, except him who knows the Father’s will and his disposition for every age according to “his incomprehensible judgments and unsearchable ways.” (On Prayer, 27)



Collect
O God,
who constantly raise up
in your Church new examples of virtue,
grant that we may follow
so closely in the footsteps
of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus
in his zeal for souls
as to attain the same rewards
that are his in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen





On the love of Christ

Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)

Ordinary Time
Saturday of the Seventeenth Week

An excerpt from
Treatise on the Practice of Loving Jesus Christ

Memorial
Saint Alphonsus Liguori
(bishop and Doctor of the Church)

All holiness and perfection of soul lies in our love for Jesus Christ our God, who is our Redeemer and our supreme good. It is part of the love of God to acquire and to nurture all the virtues which make a man perfect.

Has not God in fact won for himself a claim on all our love? From all eternity he has loved us. And it is in this vein that he speaks to us: “O man, consider carefully that I first loved you. You had not yet appeared in the light of day, nor did the world yet exist, but already I loved you. From all eternity I have loved you.”

Since God knew that man is enticed by favors, he wished to bind him to his love by means of his gifts: “I want to catch men with the snares, those chains of love in which they allow themselves to be entrapped, so that they will love me.” And all the gifts which he bestowed on man were given to this end. He gave him a soul, made in his likeness, and endowed with memory, intellect and will; he gave him a body equipped with the senses; it was for him that he created heaven and earth and such an abundance of things. He made all these things out of love for man, so that all creation might serve man, and man in turn might love God out of gratitude for so many gifts.

But he did not wish to give us only beautiful creatures; the truth is that to win for himself our love, he went so far as to bestow upon us the fullness of himself. The eternal Father went so far as to give us his only Son. When he saw that we were all dead through sin and deprived of his grace, what did he do? Compelled, as the Apostle says, by the superabundance of his love for us, he sent his beloved Son to make reparation for us and to call us back to a sinless life.

By giving us his Son, whom he did not spare precisely so that he might spare us, he bestowed on us at once every good: grace, love and heaven; for all these goods are certainly inferior to the Son: He who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for all of us: how could he fail to give us along with his Son all good things?

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 



Memorial
Saint Ignatius of Loyola

“On the first of these days you will have a declared holy day; you shall do no heavy work.” (Leviticus 23:7.)

Saint Augustine of Hippo comments on this verse from the First Reading proclaimed at Mass today:

“The sabbath was given to the Jews to be observed literally, like other things, as rites symbolically signifying something deeper. A particular kind of vacation, you see, was enjoined on them. Take care to carry out what that vacation signifies. A spiritual vacation, I mean, is tranquility of heart; but tranquility of heart issues from the serenity of a good conscience. So the person who really observes the sabbath is the one who doesn’t sin. This, after all, is the way the command was given to those who were commanded to observe the sabbath: “You shall perform no servile work.” “Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (Sermon 270)



Collect
O God,
Who raised up Saint Ignatius of Loyola
in your Church
to further the greater glory of your name,
grant that by his help we may imitate him
in fighting the good fight on earth
and merit to receive with him a crown in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 


Put inward experiences to the test to see if they come from God


Today’s Second Reading from the
Office of Readings (Liturgy of the Hours)

Ordinary Time
Friday of the Seventeenth Week

An excerpt from
The Life of Saint Ignatius in His Own Words

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
(priest and Founder of the Society of Jesus [Jesuits])

Ignatius was passionately fond of reading worldly books of fiction and tales of knight-errantry. When he felt he was getting better, he asked for some of these books to pass the time. But no book of that sort could be found in the house; instead they gave him a life of Christ and a collection of the lives of saints written in Spanish.

By constantly reading these books he began to be attracted to what he found narrated there. Sometimes in the midst of his reading he would reflect on what he had read. Yet at other times he would dwell on many of the things which he had been accustomed to dwell on previously. But at this point our Lord came to his assistance, insuring that these thoughts were followed by others which arose from his current reading.

While reading the life of Christ our Lord or the lives of the saints, he would reflect and reason with himself: “What if I should do what Saint Francis or Saint Dominic did?” In this way he let his mind dwell on many thoughts; they lasted a while until other things took their place. Then those vain and worldly images would come into his mind and remain a long time. This sequence of thoughts persisted with him for a long time.

But there was a difference. When Ignatius reflected on worldly thoughts, he felt intense pleasure; but when he gave them up out of weariness, he felt dry and depressed. Yet when he thought of living the rigorous sort of life he knew the saints had lived, he not only experienced pleasure when he actually thought about it, but even after he dismissed these thoughts, he still experienced great joy. Yet he did not pay attention to this, nor did he appreciate it until one day, in a moment of insight, he began to marvel at the difference. Then he understood his experience: thoughts of one kind left him sad, the others full of joy. And this was the first time he applied a process of reasoning to his religious experience. Later on, when he began to formulate his spiritual exercises, he used this experience as an illustration to explain the doctrine he taught his disciples on the discernment of spirits.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

 

 


Ordinary Time
Thursday of the Seventeenth Week

“Blessed the man who finds refuge in you, in their hearts are pilgrim roads.” (Psalm 84, 6.)


“The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly and the Son more obscurely. The New [Testament] manifested the Son and suggested the deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit dwells among us and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of himself. For it was not safe, when the Godhead of the Father was not yet acknowledged, plainly to proclaim the Son; nor when that of the Son was not yet received to burden us further (if I may use so bold an expression) with the Holy Spirit; lest perhaps people might, like persons loaded with food beyond their strength and presenting eyes as yet too weak to look at the sun’s light, risk the loss even of that which was within the reach of their powers; but that by gradual additions, and, as David says, “Goings up, and advances and progress from glory to glory,” the light of the Trinity might shine on the more illuminated. It was for this reason, I think, that [the Holy Spirit] gradually came to dwell in the disciples, measuring himself out to them according to their capacity to receive him, at the beginning of the Gospel, after the passion, after the ascension, making perfect their powers, being breathed on them and appearing in fiery tongues.” (Theological Oration 5 (On the Holy Spirit))


Collect
O God, protector of those who hope in You
without Whom nothing has firm foundation,
nothing is holy,
bestow in abundance Your mercy upon us
and grant that,
with You as our ruler and guide,
we may use the good things that pass
in such a way as to hold fast even now
to those that ever endure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen