September 23, 2018
25th Sunday Ordinary Time B
In our Gospel today Jesus, the teacher, uses a child as an illustration in a lesson for his disciples. The Gospels preserve a tradition in which Jesus presents a child as an example of our entry into Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew) and of following Jesus (Mark). We must understand that in the ancient world a child may be loved and at the same time not valued. A child has no rights apart from the father of the family. The lowly social status of children is akin to women and servants/slaves in that society.
In our Gospel today on the way to Capernaum Jesus explains that being the Messiah will entail suffering and death and then new life. The disciples, totally missing the essential point of the lesson, quibble among themselves about who is the greatest. When they reach their destination, Jesus gently chides his disciples to put away aspirations of grandeur and become servants. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” And to visualize the importance of his words, like a good teacher, Jesus puts his arms around a child and says: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me, and whoever receives not me but the One who sent me.”
“Receive” in context means “to welcome” or “to wait upon”. Like a servant or waiter at table, the disciple must bend down and ask the child: “What would like to eat?” Many disciples first come to Jesus because they seek something from him – hope, salvation, healing, forgiveness, a sense of belonging, esteem. All these are gifts that a true follower of Jesus will gratefully receive and then share freely with others. When we bestow gifts on the lowly whomever they be (children, women and slaves) we are giving them back to Jesus himself and to the One who sent Jesus into the world, God, the Father. The recipient of gifts becomes the benefactor, the gift giver!
The crowd seeks Jesus out for more bread. Aware of their intention Jesus urges “the seekers” to work for food that endures for eternal life. They ask how to obtain this bread. Jesus urges them to “believe in” in the one God sent into the world. Recall John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son that everyone who believes in him might not peris... READ MORE
The crowd follows Jesus back to Capernaum. Jesus fed the multitude and now they seek him out for more food. He admonishes them: “Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life which the son of man will give you.” Curious, they ask: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God.” Jesus replies: “This is the work of God, believe in t... READ MORE
I grew up on Wonder Bread. Even “enriched” it didn’t have the texture and taste of homemade bread. Today we can choose multigrain and whole wheat breads. Lately I am buying oatmeal and potato breads. They are great making a sandwich and for toasting. Why talk about bread? Today we are proclaiming and listening to Jesus feeding a multitude with loaves of bread and fis... READ MORE
I am enjoying my back porch. This year I put out bird feeders – seeds and suet. During the summer there has been an increased number and variety of birds coming to eat but also chipmunks, squirrels and black crows. To use a word from our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, there is a “gathering in” – it is the responsibility of the shepherd to gather the scatt... READ MORE
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two..” Jesus summons and then sends. He calls “disciples” (those who follow him) and commissions them to be “apostles” meaning “those who are sent.” They are to travel light: with a walking stick and sandals but no food, no sack, no money, and no 2nd tunic! Can we imagine setting out with lit... READ MORE