February 11, 2017


February 11, 2017:  Saturday, 5th week, Ordinary Time / Our Lady of Lourdes

See about 2 dozen connections with today?
Legend below

Pope Francis
World Day of the Sick message:   The theme of this year’s celebration is “Amazement at what God has accomplished….”  Today is an opportunity to reflect on the needs of the sick and all who suffer; it's also an occasion for those who assist the sick to thank God for their vocation.  Today's celebration gives us renewed energy to carry out our mission, serving the poor, sick, suffering, outcasts, and the marginalized.  I'm close to you, the suffering, and your families and appreciate all who work for your care.  See in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sign of God’s love for every person and a model of surrender to his will.  May you always find strength to love God, even in the experience of illness.
We stand beneath Mary's gaze.  St. Bernadette tells us the Virgin, “the Lovely Lady,” looked at her as one person looks at another.  Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt Mary looking at her and speaking to her with respect, not condescension.  The sick and disabled have inalienable dignity and a mission; they're not passive even if they appear so.  Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others.  She enriched others and offered herself for the salvation of all.  Mary's asking her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering want not only healing but also a truly Christian life, even to offer it as missionary disciples.  Bernadette became a Sister of Charity and a model for healthcare workers.  May we always relate to the sick as persons with a gift to share.
The gaze of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, brightens the Church in her commitment to the suffering and needy.  The Lord Jesus became one of us and endured death to redeem us all.  He expressed God’s merciful omnipotence, and filled all life, above all when frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalized, or suffering, with the power of hope that can sustain us.  This wealth of humanity and faith inspires us to speak openly of our human weakness and to address the challenges of healthcare.  May we find new incentive to work for greater respect for life, health, and the environment.  May today inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons and to protect the vulnerable and the environment.
I offer my prayerful support to physicians, nurses, volunteers, and all who serve the sick.  I embrace institutions working to this end and families who lovingly care for their sick.  May they be signs of God’s love and imitate the friends of God, including Saints Mother Teresa of Calcutta, John of God, and Camillus de Lellis.  May Mary's maternal intercession sustain and accompany our faith, and obtain for us from her Son hope, a sense of fraternity and responsibility, a commitment to integral human development, and the joy of feeling gratitude for God's fidelity and mercy:  In Christ you welcome us as a sons and daughters.  Sustain our trusting expectation, help us in our infirmities and sufferings, guide us to Christ, and help us entrust ourselves to the Father...
The miracle of the loaves and fishes
  • Gn 3:9-24  God/Adam:  “Where are you?” / “I was naked, so I hid.” / “You ate the forbidden fruit!” / “The woman you put here gave it to me.”  God/Eve:  “Why?” / “The serpent tricked me.” / “[Serpent,] you're banned....  I'll make you and Eve, and your offsprings, enemies.”  “[Eve,] in pain shall you bear children....” “[Adam,] cursed be the ground because of you!  In toil shall you eat its yield.  By your sweat shall you get bread....  You're dirt, and to dirt you'll return.”  Eve became mother of all the living.  “The man must not be allowed to live forever,” so God banished him from the garden and stationed cherubim and a sword to guard the tree of life.
  • Ps 90:2, 3-4abc, 5-6, 12-13 "In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge."  From everlasting to everlasting you are God.  You turn man back to dust.  A thousand years are as yesterday to you.  Teach us to number our days and so gain wisdom of heart....
  • Mk 8:1-10  Jesus / disciples:  “I'm moved with pity; the crowd has been with me three days with no food.” / “Where can anyone get bread out here?” / “How many loaves do you have?” / “Seven.”  He took them, gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them.  They also had a few fish.  He blessed them and ordered them distributed too.  They ate and were satisfied, and seven baskets were left over.  There were about 4,000....
    • Creighton:  A rebellious part in each of us lets ourselves be seduced by a desire to be like God.  God asks us, "Where are you?"*  God knows we're out of sync with our true nature; we feel it when we've made choices which compromise our nature.  The more we isolate ourselves from God's way, and integration into a relationship with God, others, and our planet, we feel "out of sorts," lacking harmony and communion.  We may not know why, but we're not at peace, "at home."  We try in non-loving behaviors, but they don't make us happier, build unity, or foster communion with our God or harmony with ourselves.  Sometimes we don't feel at home talking with God; we can even hide ourselves from God.
    Note the contrast with the gospel:  Jesus takes pity on the starving crowd and decides to feed them, but the disciples tell him it can't be done.  When we're isolated and famished for communion with God, we can lose hope and say, "You can't feed me.  I'm too..." or get angry with God, blaming him for not giving us what we want.  Jesus tells them, "Give them what you have."  When we see our inadequacy or that of our parish community, may we hear those same words and let ourselves be broken and poured out as he feeds us in the Eucharist.  When God asks, "Where are you?" may we answer, "Home, in you, with family, with the needy.  I don't want what won't satisfy me.  I want to love, forgive, be compassionate, generous, patient...."  Eating the right food will give me a peace and fire nothing else can offer.  The Bread of Life is food for a mission in communion with Jesus.  Be careful what you hunger for and eat....
    *Pope Francis referred to "Adam, Who are you?" on 4-7-137-8-13, and 5-26-14.
      Our Lady of Lourdes
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Forever-food":  God provided wonderful food for Adam and Eve, but they wanted to control the menu and so ate the forbidden food.  But our loving God sent his Son, who left us a new food: his body and blood.  In Jesus, God offers us food from the tree of life that will enable us to live forever; in the Eucharist Jesus feeds and satisfies us.  Am I eating forever- or perishable food?...
    • Passionist:  Today's gospel parallels Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000; both take place in a deserted area, where Jesus feeds a crowd with few loaves and fishes.  His blessing and gestures foreshadow the Eucharist.  Both highlight the disciples’ lack of faith and conclude with leftovers, dismissal of the crowd, and departure by boat.  But details differ:  the first is in Galilee with Jews, the second in a pagan region with Gentiles.  Between the two is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman, where he says his food is first for the Jews but then heals her Gentile daughter.  Jesus breaks the wall there was between Jews and Gentiles and creates a bridge between the first and second multiplication-miracles. In Decapolis, Jesus has compassion on the people because they have no food (Gentiles didn't have “The Word”); in Galilee, he was concerned because they were as sheep without a shepherd.  In Decapolis, there were seven (wholeness symbol) loaves; in Galilee, five (covenant symbol).  In Decapolis, seven baskets are gathered up (for the 7 pagan nations inhabiting Canaan before Israel entered?); in Galilee, 12 (for the tribes of Israel).  In Galilee, the baskets were wicker baskets Jews used; in Decapolis, they were just large baskets.
    Today’s gospel reveals that Jesus, observant Jew, is shepherd and bread of life for Jews.  But he's also Messiah to the world, breaking down covenant barriers and laws and offering everyone the true bread of life.  He made room for difference.  Can we in our polarized world recognize God in someone with a different look, language, faith, or ideals?  When we receive the Eucharist, we're challenged to tear down walls and build bridges so we can see Jesus in others and minister to their needs.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Can one feed with bread in the desert?"  The crowd was hungry for God, not just physical food.  When Jesus asked his disciples to feed them, they exclaimed, "Where can we get enough bread?," just like the Israelites fleeing Egypt.   Like the provision of manna in the wilderness, Jesus provides bread; he gives more than we deserve or need so we can share it, sustaining us with his word and heavenly bread.  When we receive the Eucharist, we unite ourselves to Christ. "One bread provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and makes us live for ever in Christ" (Ignatius of Antioch Ad Eph. 20:2).  In the Eucharist do I expect healing, pardon, comfort, and refreshment? The Lord has more for us than we can imagine:  union with Christ, charity, strength to break from disordered attachments and to be rooted in Christ....
      • Our Lady of Lourdes:  Mary appeared to poor Bernadette Soubirous, 14, near Lourdes, calling sinners to change.  She's inspired great love of prayer and good works, especially service of the poor and the sick; see also Wikipedia.
    Dress legend
    • 'Fruit' pin:  "The woman you put here with me gave me fruit..." (1st reading)
    • 'Serpent' pin:  "The serpent tricked me..." (1st reading)
    • 'Roses' pin:  "The ground shall bring you thorns and thistles as you eat of the plants" (1st reading)
    • Dirt-colored suspenders:  "You're dirt and will return to dirt" (1st reading); you turn us back to dust (psalm)
    • 'Hand' tie pin:  "The man mustn't be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit..." (1st reading)
    • 'Angel' pin:  The Lord stationed the cherubim... (1st reading)
    • 'Sword' pin:  ...and fiery revolving sword... (1st reading)
    • 'Tree' pin:  ...to guard the tree of life (1st reading)
    • 'Alps' pin:  Before the mountains were begotten, you are God (psalm)
    • 'Clocks' suspenders:  To you 1,000 years are as yesterday (psalm)
    • Green shirt:  Changing grass (psalm), Ordinary Time season
    • 'Calculator' tie:  Teach us to number our days... (psalm); multiplication... (gospel)
    • 'Wheat' pin:  ...of the loaves... (gospel); "by your sweat shall you get bread to eat" (1st reading)
    • 'Fish' pin:  ...and fishes (gospel)
    • 'Owl' tie pin:  ...that we may gain wisdom... (psalm)
    • 'Heart' pin:  ...of heart (psalm); Jesus' heart was moved with pity (gospel)
    • 'Boat' tie bar:  Jesus got into the boat with his disciples (gospel)
    • 'Mary' pin:  Today's memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

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