Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, August 2, 2015: Do not work for food that perishes...

Are our hearts open to the intangible?

Like the Israelites complaining to Moses in Exodus, we tend to covet the tangible.  They want their fill of bread, and God, remarkably, answers their grumbling with a tangible foodstuff:  In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread.  Why?  So that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.  This is the bread of angels of which Psalm 78 speaks, manna, heavenly bread.  The Israelites are satisfied (at least for a time) by tangible food over which they believe they exercise some control; but soon, having only what is necessary is not enough, and their grumbling will recommence.  Their hearts are not open to the intangible, and their trust, their faith is limited.

In John’s Gospel, the crowds in Capernaum are looking for a repeat of Jesus’ earlier sign, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.  But Jesus is clear in his response to them:  Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life.  Unlike Moses, Jesus goes straight for the intangible:  the food that endures is the food of faith; the bread that comes down from heaven is Jesus himself, come down to be in their very midst.  The crowds need to place their trust in the intangible love of God, which is visible only to the heart; this is the crux of faith.  When Paul writes to the Ephesians, it is this intangible love that allows a new self, created in God’s way (of love!) in righteousness and holiness of truth.  It is the intangible, both Jesus and Paul tell us, that is truly of value, that makes life worth living – and that truth is found in the intangible love of God given expression by the man Jesus.

Is your heart open to that intangible that is Jesus, God’s love incarnate?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

So that this one life could multiply... (Henri Nouwen)

  Jesus is given to the world.  He was chosen, blessed, and broken to be given.  Jesus' life and death were a life and death for others.  The Beloved Son of God, chosen from all eternity, was broken on the cross so that this one life could multiply and become food for people of all places and all times.

  As God's beloved children we have to believe that our little lives, when lived as God's chosen and blessed children, are broken to be given to others.  We too have to become bread for the world.  When we live our brokenness under the blessing, our lives will continue to bear fruit from generation to generation. 

--Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
Image source

Monday, July 27, 2015

The boy with the loaves and fishes (Fr. J. Martin)

 One participant in the Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes is usually overlooked:  the boy…  But notice that it is from these few loaves and fishes, brought by this unnamed boy, that Jesus makes enough for the crowd… [T]he little he gave was the foundation of one of Jesus's greatest miracles… 

Jesus accepts what we give, blesses it, breaks it open and then magnifies it.  Often in ways that we don't see.  Or cannot see.  Or will not be able to see in this lifetime…  In this life we often feel that our efforts are inadequate.  We try to help our friends and family, but nothing seems to work.  We try to fix our children's lives, but it doesn't seem to help much.  We try to seek forgiveness, but others are still resentful.  We try to encourage people, but they still seem disconsolate.  We try to love, but it doesn't seem to be enough.  […]

Never doubt that the smallest act of love can be multiplied by God.  Just like the loaves and fishes from that boy, who was unnamed, unheralded, but ultimately very important indeed.

--Fr. James Martin, Facebook, July 29, 2012
(For more of Fr. Jim's reflections on the life of Jesus, 

Image source:  Jacopo Tintoretto, The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, ca. 1545-1550, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York  (CHALLENGE:  Notice anything interesting about this painting??  Click on the image to enlarge it, or, better still, visit MOMA's website, and then click on their picture, and the image will fill your screen.)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What satisfies you? (St. Pope John Paul II)

 It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

--St. Pope John Paul II

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fr. Biju Michael's New Book, Mary of Nazareth!

     Please join us in congratulating Fr. Biju on the publication of his new book, Mary of Nazareth Through Poems and Pictures from the Holy Land, written in collaboration with Fr. Antony Vazhappilly of St. James the Apostle Church in Fremont!  Joining beautiful illustrations with original poetry and texts from Scripture, Mary of Nazareth tells the story of Jesus and Mary through a chronological exploration of sites in the Holy Land, and will be a welcome companion on any pilgrim's journey, real or virtual.

     The book is recommended by both the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, and the Custos of the Holy Land, the Very Reverend Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M.  Each copy contains actual flower petals from Nazareth, as well as much material for reflection and meditation.

     Anyone interested in purchasing a copy of the book (cost: $40) should contact the rectory at 415.388.4190. (Cash is preferable; checks can also be made out to St. James Parish.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 26, 2015: More than they could eat...

What are you hungry for? 

 If you were part of the crowd who witnessed the multiplication of the five barley loaves and two fish into enough food to feed thousands in John's Gospel, wouldn’t you be mesmerized?  Wouldn’t you find it difficult to see beyond the tangible miracle to the deeper reality that Jesus is hoping to convey?  His spectators know the story of Elisha and the twenty barley loaves that fed a hundred people from 2 Kings; they are wondering if Jesus can do the same.  To them, the loaves and fishes are but one more spectacle, one more miracle among many, and it is this tangible reality that they cling to.  The hand of the Lord does certainly feed them, as Psalm 145 says, giving them food in due season and satisfying the desire of every living thing.  But is it really our physical hunger that needs satisfying?

The Bread of Life discourse, of which we hear the prelude this weekend, asks us to consider more than the tangible miracle:  it asks us to consider who Jesus truly is, what he is about.  When he gives in abundance, far more than they could eat, he is beginning to suggest that he has new food to offer us, food that will become integral to our identity, an identity grounded not in tangible sustenance, but in intangibles of our life as Church:  unity of the spirit through the bond of peace, Paul tells the Ephesians, is the path to new life, which we are to embrace with all humility and gentleness, with patience and love.  As Church, we are called to be one body and one Spirit; following a path through death to resurrection, it is this promise – not the tangible promise of common bread and fish – that is to bring us to new life.
What are you hungry for?
Might it be a path to new life in Christ?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

His heart was moved with pity for them...

Here is a story 
to break your heart. 
Are you willing? 
This winter 
the loons came to our harbor 
and died, one by one, 
of nothing we could see. 
A friend told me 
of one on the shore 
that lifted its head and opened 
the elegant beak and cried out 
in the long, sweet savoring of its life 
which, if you have heard it, 
you know is a sacred thing, 
and for which, if you have not heard it, 
you had better hurry to where they still sing. 
And believe me, tell no one just where that is. 
The next morning 
this loon, speckled 
and iridescent and with a plan 
to fly home 
to some hidden lake, 
was dead on the shore. 
I tell you this 
to break your heart, 
by which I mean only 
that it break open and never close again 

to the rest of the world. 
--Mary Oliver, Lead
Image source:  Robert Bateman, Lake Loon and Lily Pads

Monday, July 20, 2015

Abide with Me (Henry F. Lyte)

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; 
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide; 
When other helpers fail and comforts flee, 
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me. 

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; 
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; 
Change and decay in all around I see— 
O Thou who changest not, abide with me. 

I need Thy presence every passing hour; 
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r? 
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be? 
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me. 

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting?  Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

--Henry F. Lyte, 1847
Image source