Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Romans 5:11 - Atonement

Scripture Romans 5:11
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (NIV)
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (KJV)

Radio callers question
In trying to make the jump to a belief in Christianity, one of the key things I get confused about is the “atonement”.
Why was there not another way other than the crucifixion of Jesus to atone for our sins?
It seems a harsh roundabout way achieving what God wanted.

The word atonement, which is almost the only theological term of English origin, has a curious history.
The verb "atone", from the adverbial phrase "at one" (M.E. at oon), at first meant to reconcile, or make "at one"; from this it came to denote the action by which such reconciliation was effected, e.g. satisfaction for all offense or an injury.
"For God indeed was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Source: www.newadvent.org

Response from Radio Guest
The atonement actually begins with the incarnation and God cared about us enough that He would want to become one of us.
He made us in His image.
We were spiritual, we were intelligent, we had creative thoughts, imagination, language.
We were made in His image and then we rebelled against Him.

God cannot tolerate sin.
God created the world to be good and to be holy like He is.
Man brought sin into the world.
As CS Lewis put it – we are not straight anymore, now we are bent and broken.

God loved us enough that He sent His son to become one of us, to relate to us but then also to pay the penalty that would have been due to us.

In other words, if I am a criminal and I kill someone and I break the law and I am in prison and then I am going to face the death sentence for that.
Somebody can come along and say ‘you know, I will take the death penalty for him, I will very graciously take his place if you let him go.’

Now this actually happened by the way in Auschwitz in 1941 with Maximillian Kolbe who voluntariliy took the place and died for another man and the man was set free.

And so this is somewhat what God did.
He came down in human form to die for humanity and take their place and in effect said I am going to show them how much I love them by doing this.

The interesting thing is, if you were in prison and on death row for murder and I came along and said I will take you place, that’s fine. But I am one limited person who can only be an exchange for one other limited person. The beauty of what Jesus did is that He is an infinite person and therefore He could die for an infinite number of people and save them. Now the reason I think, and when I watched Mel Gibsons movie the Passion of the Christ, this came to my mind – “Why is it so gruesome? Why is this so gory? Why did He have to go through this?”

And I think it was God trying to demonstrate how horrendous and egregious and wicked and upturning sin really is. It is not viewed by God or the church that sin is ‘oh we did something wrong, slap us on the hand’ but that sin is really a violation of the general rule that God made for the world and His moral code. And by violating that it does such damage not only to mankind but to all creation. It was so egregious and awful and wicked that only the crucifixion and a death like that could show and demonstrate how really bad it was and the consequences it brought about.

I think at the moment of Jesus death on the Cross was one of God’s most glorious moments. Jesus said ‘when I am raised up’ He is almost viewing this as being put upon a throne, the highest moment of a King, in all His glory. Jesus saw being raised up on the Cross as that pinnacle moment. It was at that moment where God who is Love by His very nature demonstrated to mankind how pure and powerful His love is. That He was willing to do that for us who didn’t even deserve it. How could you demonstrate love more than by that act?

Only God could come down and wipe out the sin and save us from the corruption that we have buried ourselves in and that is why I think we have the atonement.

(follow up question from radio caller)
Do you think that Jesus being God could have done it with a snap of His fingers?

He could have done something like that.
If I was Him I would have had a different reaction.
I would have said ‘you disobeyed, you are now living in sin and squalor and completely egregious behaviour. I am going to wipe you off the face of the earth’
I am not as loving as He is, I would have said ‘I am going to let you just rot in your choices’.

Maybe God could have snapped His fingers and done it, but because God is holy and just there is a requirement that justice be taken care of.

It is like in my family with my kids, I can over and over again overlook an evil done by one of my children but I know that if I have a great sense of justice that justice has to be done. If one son is beating up on another son all of the time I can’t just forgive him and ignore it I have to actually step in and rectify that.

And that is what God did. He came in and rectified it. He actually satisfied His own justice.

(the caller add’s in that he is beginning to understand the concept and that in his words ‘it basically comes down to justice, it is a combination of love plus justice’)
That is a very good point.

If God by His very nature is ‘just’ and ‘loving’, how can He satisfy both of those qualities of justice and of love?

In Love, God wants to forgive.
In Justice, God has to exact punishment and make things right.

But with Him and coming down and taking the punishment Himself, He satisfied both aspects of justice and love.

Source: Transcribed from the Catholic Answers Live radio show – Episode ca091023a
titled "Open Forum for Non-Catholics"
with guest Steve Ray

The Seven Last Words of Jesus


Here are the last words spoken by Jesus just before He died, in the order they likely occurred.

1. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Lk 23:34)

We know that this is the first of the sayings because Jesus made this statement immediately after the soldiers pierced His hands and feet.

2. "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Lk 23:43)

Scripture says Jesus said these words about the sixth hour to one of the criminals hanging on a cross beside Jesus. The hours of the day begin at six for the Jews and so the sixth hour is just after noon.

3. "Woman behold thy son, Son, behold, your mother!" (Jn 19:26-27)

This was later when the soldiers cast lots for His garments, while Jesus was on the Cross.

4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Scripture says He said about the ninth hour

5. "I thirst!" (Jn 19:28)


6. "It is finished!" (Jn 19:30)

are said in succession shortly before He died.

7. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Lk 23:46)

Is said just before He died.

Background - The Seven Last Words of Jesus

The Seven Last "Words" of Jesus Christ from the cross are actually 7 short phrases that Jesus uttered on Calvary that serve as an excellent holy week meditation. To find all of the seven last words of Jesus Christ, one must read all the gospels since none of the evangelists records all 7 last words. The sayings would have been originally uttered by Jesus in the Aramaic language, but only one of the last seven words of Jesus is preserved for us in the original Aramaic, namely "Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani" or "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," which is actually a direct quote of the opening verse of Psalm 22. The rest of the seven last words of Jesus are found in the gospels after having been translated into Greek by the four Evangelists. For centuries these seven last words of Jesus have been also used as meditation points for spiritual conferences, retreats, and Lenten missions. (source: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/43/Seven_Last_Words_of_Christ.html)


Archbishop Fulton Sheen says from the very beginning of Christs experience of the Passion on the Cross, in this time suffering, Christ reveals the heart of God.

Notice in the first three words, Jesus speaks first to enemies, then to sinners and then to saints.

The first here words are directed from the heart of Christ to humanity, revealing Christs desire that all men be saved and protected in the family of God.

But His first thought was to His enemies, then to the sinner next to him on the cross and thirdly it was to His mother and John – to saints.

I think that says something powerful about Christs love for humanity and His desire that all would be saved.

Then in the fourth and fifth words, we see Christ turns from His hearts desire to see humanity healed, saved and cared for we see Christ turning to His own experience in His own person as the God-man, He experiences both (in the fourth word) the pain of separation from God (not that Christ was separated from God but in His radical union with us in the Incarnation He experiences our pain and our separation in His person in a mystical sense. So He can say for us “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me”. Here Jesus is referencing Psalm 22 which are words of hope and trust, not words of despair.

So He experiences man’s pain of separation or abandonment but in the fifth word He experiences God’s passion, if you will, of being abandoned by men.

When He says “I thirst”, as many spiritual writers tell us, Jesus was not only thirsting for water though it certainly was but He thirsted for souls.

In the sixth and seventh words Christ turns His gaze to His heavenly Father.

In saying “I is finished” it seems as though Jesus is completing His prayer that He began the night before when He said in John 17:4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gave me to do;

When Jesus said “It is finished” Jesus finished the task of filling the reservoir of sacramental life, but the work of letting it flood out into our souls is not yet finished. He finished the foundation but we must build upon it. He finished the Ark, opening His side with a spear but we must enter the Ark. He stands at the door and knocks but the latch is on the inside and only we can open it. Whether our work will ever be finished depends entirely on how we re-live His life and become other Christs for His Good Friday Passion will avail us nothing if we don’t take up His Cross and follow Him.

Into your hands I comment my spirit.

It was precisely in death that Christ overcame death.

Source: Catholic Answers Live radio - show - The Seven Last Words with Tim Staples drawing from the reflections in a book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen titled (as you would expect) the Seven Last Words

Luke 23:32-33, 39-43 - Two Criminals Crucified Next To Jesus

Scripture Luke 23:32-33, 39-43

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."


"Two thieves," because they thought this would make His death more disgraceful-making Him equal to common criminals.

One of these thieves, called the penitent thief, repented of his sins and received Our Lord´s pardon before his death.

The other thief died in his sins.

Holy writers tell us that one of these thieves was saved to give poor sinners hope, and to teach them that they may save their souls at the very last moment of their lives if only they are heartily sorry for their sins and implore God´s pardon for them.

The other thief remained and died impenitent, that sinners may fear to put off their conversion to the hour of death, thus rashly presuming on God´s mercy.

Persons who willfully delay their conversion and put off their repentance to the last moment, living bad lives with the hope of dying well, may not accept the grace to repent at the last moment, but may, like the unfortunate, impenitent thief, die as they lived, in a state of sin.

Source: Catholic.net

Luke 23:33-34 - Jesus is Nailed To The Cross

Scripture Luke 23:33-34

And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

And Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." …..

Reflection - 11th Station – Jesus is Nailed To The Cross

Wounded, mangled, made to bleed, You consent to the violent attack of the hammer.

Patient in Your agony, You allow the cruel penetration of Your Body to make us one with You.

You give Bread of life to fill us as You receive our nails.
From Your love You bleed.
For love of us, for love of the Father, the Child bleeds for the children.
Brother bleeds for the brother who is killing Him.

You become one with the cross, absorbing completely the burden of sin, allowing it to permeate You – all the rage and loneliness and anxiety and despair and hatred and lust and greed and incessant lies of all mankind through all the ages, sinking into You, filling You up.

You are bombarded with poison and still You love.

Source: Meditations on the Stations of the Cross www.feastofsaints.com

Matthew 7:7 - The Problem in Asking God

Scripture – Matthew 7:7

Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.


The Problem in Asking God
We have all asked for something in prayer and not received it.
How can Jesus say, “Ask, and it will be given you?”
There are no guarantees our prayers will be answered the way we want.
Sometimes we ask and God says, “No!”

One Bible expert suggests that we mistranslated Jesus’ words. He said the gist of what Jesus meant was, “Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.” He thinks Jesus was telling us to persist in prayer.

We’ll never know the context in which Jesus spoke these challenging words.
Matthew puts them in one setting; Luke (11:9) in another. Luke ties them to Jesus’ urging perseverance in prayer.

In practice we are face to face with mystery. We do not know why God does what God does, or doesn’t do.
We comfort ourselves by remembering two things.

First, Paul tells us that when we pray, it is the Holy Spirit praying with us (see Romans 8:26). The idea of God asking God should give us some confidence.

Second, remember the blessing of seemingly unanswered prayer.

Sometimes we ask for what is not good for us, even if we can’t understand it at the moment.


Lord Jesus, when you taught us to pray you added, “Your will be done.”
That phrase has always been the kicker.
Just when I am about to tell you what I want, you remind me that all prayer must be couched in terms of the will of God.
So here are the things I ask for…. Let them happen if you think it is a good idea.


Ask God for something that seems beyond the realm of possibility.
Don’t ask for something selfish (a million dollars or a new car).
Pray for world peace, for an end to abortion, for all people to come to know Jesus Christ.

Source: Lent 2009 - Daily Reflections for Lent by Rev. Norm Langenbrunner

Luke 23:22-24 - Jesus is Condemned To Death

Scripture: Luke 23:22-24

A third time he said to them, "Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him."
But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed.
So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted.


First Station – Jesus is Condemned To Death

Unjustly accused.
Jesus stands condemned. He is subjected to merciless indignities.
Those participating in the harassment of Jesus are not cruel and heartless persons.
They are everyday folks like us, caught in the fervour of the crowd.
They are afraid; afraid of authentic authority, the Authority of Truth. They are afraid of change

O condemned Redeemer and Author of life, we’re afraid.
There have been times when our fearfulness has not let us set aside our pride, our need for security, our need to be right; we have hurt and bruised each other.

Reflecting on your own sentencing, Lord, we lower our eyes in sadness and sorrow.

We have condemned that which is demanding of us. Forgive us and teach us to forgive each other.

Source: Stations of the Cross For Married Couples – Kass P Dotterweich

1 John 1:8 - Repent

Scripture: 1 John 1:8

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.


Lent prods us to repentance.
There is something wrong with us and the world. I am not OK; neither are you.
We are insufficient. This life is not enough.
This is not easy for a world given to excuses and plea bargaining.
The most we admit to is making a mistake or behavioral problems.
But to admit we are in profound trouble? Why?
We all know there is nothing so terribly wrong with us.
Even some of our hymnals have rewritten an old song here and there to mollify our tender ego’s.
I’ve caught myself doing the same, balking before the admissions of “Amazing Grace”.
I’ve thought of rephrasing it: something like” … how sweet the sound that saved a nice fellow like me”
Come to think of it, singing that I was once “lost” and “blind” seems to be overdoing it a bit.

We here in the real world know that we are all really rather nice guys and gals.
Sure, we make mistakes now and then. But who’s to blame us for our fumbling?
And surely no one of us would deserve such a thing as hell.
Surely we are not in such desperate need as the drama of Lent seems to suggest.
Surely we do not need someone to die for our sins.
Some of us do not even know what such a strange concept might mean.

Or do we?

Source: Daybreaks – Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Weeks – John F Kavanaugh

Mark 9:28-29 - Fasting

Scripture Mark 9:28-29
And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, "Why could we not cast it (the unclean spirit) out?"
And he said to them, "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting."

Lent is just around the corner, and is a time when many Christians introduce fasting one again into their spiritual exercises.

Of course you don’t need to fast only in Lent as www.e5men.org attests to.

I was in a local Christian bookstore recently I noticed a book written by Franklin Jentezen (senior pastor of a nondenominational church) entitled “Fasting”.
I haven’t read this book in order to recommend it however it has highlighted the fact that fasting is a Christian tradition that is gaining some momentum in some Christian denominations. Fasting is biblical. Fasting permeates both the Old and the New Testaments. The prophets fasted, Moses fasted, Jesus fasted, and the apostles fasted. Jesus told his apostles to ratchet up the power of prayer by adding fasting.

I am not trying to promote this book as I would offer other alternative resources to consider however the following points below about fasting taken from the introduction to this book and two reviews highlight the surprising reward on offer to any Christian who fasts.

Experience for yourself the deeper, stronger relationship with God that comes through prayer and fasting. Know about the purpose and practice of biblical fasting, and the blessings that flow from it!

I was so thankful I bought this book. It confirmed what I had previously learnt about fasting and brought added revelation. An easy read. Motivated my own fast which resulted in blessing and victory. A must for every Christian to bring Jesus his reward.

Reviewing Biblical fasts from the Old & New Testaments, this easy to read book sets out the motivations behind the fasts and the breakthroughs that happened as a result. It also applies those principles to our own lives. It started off my own personal journey of fasting, and I have not looked back since.

Ezekiel 36:26 - A New Heart

Scripture Ezekiel 36:26

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.


There is much written in scripture about the human heart.

But recent studies indicate there is more to this than I first thought, as I recently found out how actual heart transplants have affected the recipient after they have been given a “new heart”.

(one example of what I am referring to is in the text below, taken from http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/-/lifestyle/6704106/organ-transplants-and-hidden-memories/)

The phenomenon, which has its ardent critics and proponents, has been widely documented and was given some credence in a book called The Heart's Code in which author Paul Pearsall, a clinical neuropsychologist, provided evidence of heart transplant recipients reporting that they attained memories and personality traits of their donor.

The operation has also had an impact on his personality. "I am a lot more outgoing," he says, adding that he used to stay home while his wife went out. "I wouldn't socialise with people at all. Now, to my son's embarrassment sometimes, I will engage anyone in conversation."

He is also much more inclined to consider phenomena that are inexplicable but appear to have merit.

"Before I was extremely analytical and scientific," he says. "Anything that didn't fit into a nice, neat little box was silly. Now I have expanded the way I look at things."

Paul Barrett used to love full-bodied and old red wines. So, to celebrate his heart and double-lung transplant five years ago, he and his wife cracked open a Grange hermitage. "I took one taste and said to my wife, 'This is off'," he recalls. "She said, "No, no, it is lovely'." From being such a connoisseur of fine red wines that he could pick the year and area of origin, his preferences have taken a 180-degree turn. "Now I can't stand the stuff," he says. "I actually think alcopops and Vodka cruisers taste pretty good. And I am on to the sweet white wines now, which I would not even have looked at before."

It is one of many changes in his tastes, behaviour and personality that occurred immediately after his transplant, some of which he believes may be the result of cellular or organ memory contained within the donor organ and transferred via the transplanted tissue.

His hair has become curly and thicker and is growing faster while before it was "dead flat". He also now tolerates some foods, including mushrooms, sultanas, muesli and yoghurt, whereas before he detested them because they made him ill. He can't stand fast food whereas before he ate it whenever he got the chance.

Another radical change is his new-found love of pushbike and motorbike riding, which has replaced his passion for tenpin bowling. "Before you couldn't get me on a two-wheeler or a motorbike either," he says.

Matthew 5:39-43 - Love your enemies

Scripture Matthew 5:39-43

But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,


Love the Romans and Herod. Bless those who curse you and kick you. To those who strike you on the cheek. To those who take your coat.

So we hear this very tough teaching that Jesus is saying but we don’t realize how challenging that would be given the historical context, given the Roman occupation of Israel.

Jesus gives this teaching but He isn’t just going to talk the talk. This is exactly what Jesus is going to do when the Romans take him and they slap him on the cheek, they stripped him of His robe.”

(Although not specifically mentioned by Tim Gray, the Romans used force on Jesus while He carried His Cross “two miles”, Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him while on the Cross and a criminal hanging next to Jesus on the Cross begged Jesus to remember him).

Source: Tim Gray – the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 2:2 - Advent - God Has Style

Scripture Matthew 2:2

Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, …


God has style.

I don’t know a lot but I know that God has style.

Not too long ago we had our second little girl.
I’m in the delivery room.
There is frenetic pacing, mass chaos and my wife has never looked more beautiful.
It was a beautiful moment and I was so excited.

I am holding this miracle.

I was so proud of myself emailing photos, texting messages.
I’m a good dad.
I had the announcements out and we were not even home from the hospital yet

I am the best dad.
I say to my wife, I’ll be right back I just got to run to get a few groceries and I run to the party store and ask them to give me 50 balloons, pink would be good.

I am driving home and become a moving traffic hazard.
I tie them every where – inside and outside the house.

I was dad of the year.

And as usual God came to remind me that He is bigger than I.

Just when I was starting to think I am the greatest dad in the history of the world I opened up the Gospel of Matthew to chapter 2 verse 2

[2] "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, …

I bought 50 balloons and God made a star.

God made a star.

It puts you in your place.
We just take those things for granted don’t we?
We read the story over and over and we kind of get lost in it.

Oh yeah the angel Gabriel visited Mary. Uh huh.
If an angel visits me I would soil my draws. Are you kidding me?
Come on, think about it for a second.

I mean, think about some of these situations.
God made a star.
Do you think about it?

He is not just a proud papa. He is the proudest papa ever.

Source: Mark Hart – the Bible Geek – 2006 Young Adults Conference - Holy Spirit Fire of Love.mp3

Matthew 2: 1-2 - Advent

Scripture Matthew 2: 1-2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him."


On Christmas Eve as evening settled in and darkness tightened its grip, a kind of quiet calm seemed to descend over all of us. There was nothing more to do now except to wait patiently and, of course, it was time to switch on the light of the Christmas Star on the roof. Even though it was just the flicking of a switch, for us it was a special moment, because in the gathering darkness it reminded us what Christmas was all about. As the golden light in the tissue-papered star cast its warm glow just enough to light up the garden and a bit of the roof it was comforting and gently soothing. I have always loved that custom and I think it is one of the richest of our Christmas symbols.

Later in the night before we left for the midnight Mass I would love to slip outdoors by myself and walk around the silent neighbourhood by myself. There were quite a few houses with stars above their doors. They seemed rather dim yet they shone boldly in the gloom. They became a kind of silent prayer for me. They spoke of the “light that shines in the darkness and which no darkness can overpower.” They spoke of the light of faith that gently consoles and beckons. They spoke of hospitality and safety: if Mary and Joseph arrived in our neighbourhood that Christmas night, they would not be consigned to a stable. There would be shelter and a warm welcome for them in our homes.

Yes, I loved those Christmas stars shining over the doors of our homes, and I still do. And yet, somehow, I find them less comforting now than I did then.

Today I cannot help thinking of all those for whom the Christmas Star seems to be a mockery: the homeless, travellers who live in squalor by the roadside; the homeless men, women and children who end up, for whatever reason, on the streets of our cities with nowhere to go; the marginalized and those who experience disdain or rejection or exploitation.

I hope we hold on to the custom of the lighting up our Christmas Stars outside our homes on Christmas Eve. And may the Light that comes to us at Christmas dispel all the darkness of selfishness and insensitivity that lurks in our hearts.

Source: Fr. Edwin D'Souza SDB - www.donboscosmadonna.org

Luke 1:31, and Luke 2:4, 7 - Advent

Scripture - Luke 1:31, and Luke 2:4, 7

[31] And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

[4] And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,

[7] And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Comment – Advent - Preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas.

The real question is how do we prepare for the Lord’s coming.

The preparation is spiritual and moral.

It takes place one person at a time, and what is prepared is a fit dwelling place for the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

This fitting dwelling place for Jesus is a soul in a state of grace. (Fr Corapi)

The old Hebrew name bêth lehem, means "house of bread" (newadvent.org)

Indeed! He who was born here is “The Bread of Life”. The Bread of Life was placed in a feed trough! (Paul R. Schroeder)

John 6:5-9 - Miracle of the Loaves

Scripture John 6:5-9

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"

Comment - Five Loaves And Two Fish

Some sermons stress the generosity of the little boy sharing his food.

What I find annoying is all the confident talk about how the miracle occurred because the little boy was selflessly willing to share his food.

Not only does that make it sound like God's omnipotence would have been hamstrung if the little boy had said no, and thus giving the little boy's action way too much credit in an ontological sense, it's also giving the little boy undeserved credit in the generosity department.

First of all, who says this was the little boy's dinner?

Five loaves of bread, even if they aren't as big as what you'd buy in a modern supermarket, and two fish, even if they're relatively small, is way too much food for a little boy in that time and culture to have for a single meal.

It was too much for a full grown adult to have for a single meal.

Of course, the boy might have brought food for more than one meal, not knowing how long he'd be at the event, but is there another, better explanation that might be suggested by the text?

The topic that Our Lord has introduced is where can they buy enough food for the crowd, not how they can get people to share or how they can find somebody who has a little bit of food to share. The topic is buying food.

If you look at the Greek, the verb is agorazo, which means things like "attend market," "do business," "buy or sell," etc. It's a specifically commercial, marketplace term, not a more general one like "get" or "find."

The theme of buying is thus carried on in the conversation, with Philip and Andrew pointing out problems for the "Where can we buy them food?" proposal.

First, Philip points out the huge expense of feeding the crowd--presumably because the disciples don't have that much money in the purse.

Andrew then carries the theme forward by pointing out a source where food can be bought--the little boy--but that the source doesn't have enough food for the crowd. (Incidentally, he may have started with more but have already sold the rest of what he had.)

It makes much more sense, given the context and the flow of the conversation, to see the little boy not as a local who happened to pack an extraordinarily large amount of food for him to eat at the day's event but as an enterprising young salesman who brought food to where he knew there would be a lot of people spending the day and he could sell it.

Like the kids who swarm over Israel's holy sites to this day trying to sell trinkets or snacks or bottled water to the pilgrims who have shown up for religious reasons.

Jesus' crowds were bound to attract such kids, and Andrew happened to spot one.

Presumably, then, before the miracle of the feeding the disciples paid the little boy for his five loaves and two fishes.

That's not a dead certainty.

Of course, I'm sure that they didn't steal them from the little boy, and while it's possible that the boy was overcome by religious feeling and simply donated them (or decided not to charge once he saw them being multiplied), given that his interest in bringing them to the site was probably commercial, it's not unreasonable to infer that he was paid for them.

We're not told one way or the other, but given the clear buying and selling theme in the text, preachers ought not be rhapsodizing about the generosity of the little boy or how he was willing to share with others or how without his act of sharing the miracle might not have occurred.

If anything, the miracle might have had to start with another source of food if the little boy hadn't been paid for his wares.

Of course, the above doesn't amount to a proof. It could be that the little boy had brought a surprisingly large amount of food for himself and then, for unknown reasons, mentioned this to Andrew and then generously shared it with Jesus and the disciples.

But this isn't the way the text reads.

And it's just annoying when preachers get so wrapped up in a sickly sweet, Hallmark card spirituality that they go off rhapsodizing about human sharing and generosity in a way that flies in the face of the text.

The point here is that God did a miracle through Jesus, not that a little boy was generous.


Source: http://www.jimmyakin.org/2009/08/five-loaves-and-two-fish.html

Luke 24:13-20 - Road to Emmaus

Scripture Luke 24:13-20

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

As Catholics, we celebrate Easter for 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. Recently, Life on the Rock had on Brant Pitre to help us unpack the marvellous gift of Jesus’ resurrection for us. At times, practically speaking, the resurrection is the forgotten aspect of the paschal mystery, but it is the entire paschal mystery that is salvific for us – His suffering death and resurrection.

Christian discipleship means picking up your cross and following Jesus, but without the hope of Jesus’ resurrection, this would be an unbearable task. Placing our hope in Him means making Him the goal of our lives. He is the one we keep our eyes on and trust that He has done the work of our redemption. He has accomplished the victory in our weak and sinful humanity.

Remember the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It was the first day of the week. Jesus had just been crucified. Their hope for the Messiah was crushed and they were leaving Jerusalem. They were leaving the twelve and other disciples. It was over.

Jesus comes alongside them and walks with them explaining the Scriptures to them. They were kept from recognizing Him. He tells them, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” When they arrived at the village, they asked Him to stay with them, and they recognized Him in “the breaking of the bread.” “Did our hearts not burn, when He opened the Scriptures to us?” they exclaimed. Then they returned to Jerusalem to tell the others about what had happened.

At times, we are all on the road to Emmaus. The Scriptures tell us that it is seven miles from Jerusalem, but its exact location is unknown to us today. I like this sense of mystery around this little village because, in a way, we can all be heading there when we are dejected about things in our lives. We can ask, “Where is Jesus in all of this?”

At times such as these, we must believe in the truth of the resurrection. He has risen from the dead. Our hope is not in the world and things going well for us, but our hope is in Him. He is the Resurrection and the Life. He has wrought our salvation. He has won the victory, and if we, as disciples, belong to Him, we will rise with Him.

The resurrection gives us hope because Christ has won the victory for us. It is not all up to me. I cooperate with His grace with my own efforts, but in Him is our salvation. He “draws near to us” in the Scriptures and certainly in the Eucharist. There, we will find strength and receive His life.

Source: Fr. Mark EWTN

John 4:13-14 - The Woman at the Well

Scripture: John 4:13-14

Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."


There is a thirst in every human heart.

Each of us is like that lonely Samaritan woman.

We are thirsting for something.

Something that will satisfy all our longings.

But often we search in the wrong places.

We draw water from many wells:

The water of praise to quench our thirst for self esteem;

The water of success to quench our thirst for importance;

The water of pleasure to quench our thirst for joy.

But we still get thirsty.

Only God can give us what we are looking for.

He alone can cause a spring to well up inside us.

In our journey to the promised land of eternal life.

From New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies by Flor McCarthy