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July 29, 2018: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading: John 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee.
A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people recline.”

Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.
When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples,
“Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”
So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.
When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.


Last week we had the reading from the Gospel of Mark where the Apostles jubilantly return after missionary work. Jesus draws them aside to reflect and rest in God the Father’s love.

In Mark’s Gospel, this miracle of the feeding of the five thousand men is presented next. The sequence is important. The Apostles work, gather together, prayerfully return or ensure their focus is on God, and then participate in an even more amazing miracle. That sacred space time with God is more than networking. It is being open to developing a greater understanding of and willingness to work to assist in bringing about God’s plan or vision. What follows from that is the ability to serve God even more faithfully.

Notice at the end of the Gospel where Jesus withdraws to the mountain alone. Jesus is going to prayerfully meet with God the Father.

Jesus is the one who requests and mediates the miracle from our Provident God. Jesus knows who has the bread and fishes just as much as He knows what miracle will flow forth from these humble beginnings. Jesus does not need the Apostles to find out for Him. So why does Jesus dialog with the Apostles?

The Apostles’ answer reveals two important aspects. First, it focuses their attention on the enormity of the issue. The resolution of this is impossible in their eyes. Alone, they cannot answer the crowds’ needs for food. More importantly though, with the questioning of them, Jesus focuses their attention on finding a way to start.

That is what the Apostles and each of us today is called to do. God has given us the intellect, compassion, and freewill to analyze situations and decide our approach at trying to assist. God has placed within our hearts the desire to love our neighbor as deeply as we love ourselves. If we watch carefully we will see that from our humblest beginnings God can and will bring forth resolutions beyond our wildest dreams.


This week find somewhere in your immediate world where you can plant a seed for beginning a positive change. In your sacred space and prayer time speak with God about this work. Ask God to let you know His will. You will feel God’s answer inside your heart. Continue with that work. Enjoy the journey.


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Helen Flavin

Helen Flavin is a Providence Associate. She is a Catholic scientist, educator and writer. Helen received her Ph.D. in Neurochemistry from Boston College. She is a fulltime science teacher. She is a guest columnist for her Diocese’s Catholic Newspaper “The Anchor.” She enjoys volunteering at the local nursing home.

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