First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm: Psalm 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Gospel Reading: John 6:1-15
Editorial Note: My deepest apologies for having been away for the last several weeks (since July 1). I have been doing a tremendous amount of traveling and continuing education this summer. I am now back on the radar! More to come in various future Potens Verbum posts about summer travels.
In the First Reading, Elisha, prophetic successor to Elijah, miraculously feeds his people in a time of famine. Notice Elisha's firm conviction that God would amply provide for the people with the meager provisions at hand. Ample, indeed! After they had eaten, there was some left over.
The Psalm today reminds us that God provides. He always gives us what we need and brings abundance out of what seems to not be enough, at least to us. The psalm refrain sung by assembly says, "The hand of the Lord, feeds us, he answers all our needs." That statement is a beatiful way for us to remember to trust in the Lord. The Lord's hand will feed us and the Lord will answer us in our time of distress. The psalm invites the gratitude tht God's people should have in the face of his providential care. The entire second stanza focuses on how God nourishes his people with food - most fitting in light of today's First Reading. The last stanza reminds us that we have only to call on God and he will hear us.
In today's Second Reading, Paul speaks directly to the nature of the Christian vocation, spelling out for his readers not only what it is to which they are called, but also, and perhaps most importantly here, how they are to live in a "worthy" manner. The emphasis is on unity, with one occuring seven times in the space of six verses, not counting the synonymous word unity. Believers have a choice as to how they respond to others.
Today's Gospel describes Jesus as Prophet - a title or description not commonly thought of, perhaps. He is one who speaks and acts in the name of God, as the sign of the miraculous feeding of the multitude attests. Several parallels can be found with the First Reading: the barely loaves, the objection by one of the followers, the abundance left over. Note the Eucharistic language: Jesus "took," "gave thanks," and "dsitributed" (John 6:11) Do we recognize our own Eucharistic celebrations as occassions of being fed by Jesus?
We have consumed, O Lord, this divine Sacrament, the perpetual memorial of the Passion of your Son; grant, we pray, that this gift, which he himself gave us with love beyond all telling, may profit us for salvation. Through Christ our Lord.
(Prayer after Communion, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Third Edition of the Roman Missal, 2010.)