17th Sunday Year B

Joshua Bell story from FORMED. Violinist sold out Madison. $20 all day train station.

First Reading: 2 Kings 4:42–44
42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God: twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” 44 He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.

The prophet Elisha was renowned for the wonders he worked; others are related before and after this incident. Here, he is repeating Moses’ miracle of providing bread or manna for his followers. For Christians, however, the greater interest is that the miraculous feeding by Jesus is recounted in terms that deliberately recall this incident: the chance comer who provides barley loaves and more, the prophet’s command, the disciple’s incredulous question, the repeated command, the feeding and the food left over. The same six steps may be seen in the gospel. So Jesus is repeating the Moses miracle after the pattern of Elisha, only a thousand times as generously: instead of 20 ‘loaves’ (small pitta breads) among 100 men, Jesus shares out five among 5000. What is the point of this modelling of the story? For John, Jesus is a second Moses, standing in the same tradition but greater than Moses, making God known just as Moses had done, bringing to completion all that Moses had begun. ‘The Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.’ — Wansbrough, H. (2012). The Sunday Word: A Commentary on the Sunday Readings (p. 206). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Response: Psalm 145:16
16You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:10–11, 15–18
10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
15The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand,
satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17The Lord is just in all his ways,
and kind in all his doings.
18The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:1–6
4 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Gospel: John 6:1–15
6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?”

The whole human race is symbolized here. Hungry not just for physical food but for life! for meaning, purpose, joy! Put yourself in this crowd right now coming to Jesus hungry! The whole human race that tries to fill up its hunger in all the wrong ways: money, pleasure, power. ~ Bishop Barron

6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Only Jesus can ever satisfy our souls. Stop seeking satisfaction in all the wrong places. Come to Christ with the little you have and you will be fed! He will give you His all. ~ Bishop Barron

12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Just like Mark’s story (last Sunday’s gospel), John’s version of the miraculous feeding reminds us of the Eucharist, when Jesus ‘said the blessing’ over the bread. Since this gospel has no account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, it is here particularly significant. The feeding is also described as one of the ‘signs’ that Jesus works. The first part of the Gospel of John is often called ‘the Book of Signs’ because Jesus works a number of signs which show his true quality. – Wansbrough, H. (2012). The Sunday Word: A Commentary on the Sunday Readings (p. 207). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

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