St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

17th Sunday Ordinary Time B18

Lambert Lombard The Miracle of the Loaves and FishesAll four Gospels relate an episode of Jesus feeding a crowd but only John sets it as being near the feast of Passover, has a different role for Phillip and Andrew, and the designation of the loaves as being barley, reminiscent of the story of Elisha we heard in the first reading.

Imagine being the unnamed boy in today’s Gospel. What was he doing with 5 loaves of bread and two fish? Is he returning from the market with them for his master? Or does his mother expect him at home with food for the rest of the family? Is he just passing through or is he part of the large crowd? What happened to attract Andrew’s attention? Did the boy willingly hand them over to Jesus or did he argue, not wanting to part with them because he knew his master or mother would punish him for showing up empty handed? In any case the boy provided the means of a miracle, feeding 5,000 men reclining on the ground (instead of “reclining”, I would say they were “loafing”), having an abundance of food with leftovers besides.

Alexandre Bida A woman healed by touching the garment of Jesus 400“I believe in you.” I trust you.” “I have faith in you.”

How often do people say one or more of those sentences or something like them to us? Those words can not only increase our self-esteem but make us try harder to live up to those sentiments.

Today’s readings, especially the reading from the Book of Wisdom , speak to me in a very personal way.

As some of you are aware, 33 years and 5 months ago, a nightmarish tragedy struck my family with the sudden death of my sister at age 32. Anyone who has had to face the death of a loved one knows the unique pain that death brings to the survivors. Often that pain cannot be expressed, only felt, and cannot always be shared.

Why would some Greeks approach Philip to ask to see Jesus? And what are they doing, worshipping at the Jewish feast of Passover?

Philip and Andrew are Greek names, not Jewish. Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee, a town with a Jewish name but just over the border in Gentile territory. Those Greeks may have been proselytes, people who have totally converted to Judaism or “God-fearers”, a step below. The question I have is: Did they ever get to meet Jesus? The text gives no indication that they did. Philip goes on a mission to consult with Andrew and together they go to tell Jesus about the visitors who, it seems, were standing there and waiting to hear whether Jesus would meet with them. Instead Jesus answers Philip and Andrew by saying what we just heard read in today’s Gospel. Nothing more is said about those Greeks. They are forgotten.

What informs each of the readings including the psalm response is conflict.

Today’s Gospel about the good shepherd is in part a response to the Pharisees who had just thrown out the man born blind who was cured by Jesus. The man tried to argue that Jesus could not be a sinner even though he healed on the Sabbath but one who was listened to by God; and, we know God doesn’t listen to sinners. What was the result? They were highly offended because he was trying to teach them. So they threw him out. Jesus compares them to hired men whose only concern for the flock was as a source of income. In contrast, Jesus is the good shepherd who knows the flock and lays down his life for them.

 How’s Easter going?The reason I ask is that for most of us, Easter is a single day celebration.  But for the Church, it’s a 50 day extended time of joy. That’s 10 more days than Lent! 25% more time to rejoice! Most of us set goals for Lent; Easter, not so much. It seems we are much better being penitent than rejoicing. I wonder why that is. In each of the prefaces of Easter, I proclaim that we are overwhelmed with Paschal joy. Is that true? Do feel overwhelmed with joy?

Helping Hands T ShirtSt. John Fisher T-Shirt Sale to raise funds for our Helping Hands project.  The t-shirts can be ordered on-line and will be shipped directly to you (for an additional charge) or will be shipped in bulk to the church and then distributed after masses.  The shirts were designed by senior Ellie Packer and all the profits will go to help fund the CRS global food packaging event to be held in the spring of 2019 to benefit the people of the Burkina Faso.

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