Last Sunday in our Gospel reading we heard about the Feeding of the Five Thousand and we came to the conclusion that it is a miracle which is closely linked to the Eucharist. After the people were fed Jesus withdrew from them to the hills because he realised that they would want to make him King even though his time was not yet ready.
The Gospel assigned to this Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time gives us an account of one of the greatest of all the miracles, namely the Feeding of the Multitude. This miracle is very well attested to in the Gospels and occurs no less than six times. The accounts of the Feeding of the Five Thousand occurs in all four of the Gospels with many of the details being exactly the same such as the fact that it involved five loaves and two fish.
In our first reading we have one of the great prophecies of the Old Testament. It is a prophecy with many aspects. Jeremiah speaks these words in the midst of one of the most terrible events to affect the People of Israel –the Babylonian captivity.
We hear in this Sunday’s Gospel how Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs to proclaim the Gospel. There are similar accounts in Matthew and Luke which have a bit more detail. But here we are presented with Mark’s typically more compressed and succinct account of the event.
We don’t often observe Jesus being disempowered and perhaps this is the only incident of this kind we find in the Gospels. It seems that because of the people’s lack of faith he could perform no miracle in his own home town. This is surprising because we usually think of Jesus as being all-powerful and capable of doing anything.
The two miracles performed in today’s extract from St Mark’s Gospel both involve women, one a little girl and the other a mature woman suffering from a haemorrhage. Actually, there are only four healings of women recorded in the Gospel, these two together with Peter’s Mother in Law and the woman bent double, The first three of these miracles are recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels and the last only in St Luke.
Today we celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist; it is a midsummer feast just as the Birth of Christ is a midwinter feast, John being born six months before Jesus
Jesus speaks to us in parables. Indeed it says in today’s Gospel that Jesus wouldn’t speak to the ordinary people except in parables. However, we are told that he did explain everything to his disciples in private.
The Gospel text set before us today is a difficult one. It doesn’t come up very often in the liturgy because the Tenth Sunday is often missed out due to the particular timing of Lent in any given year.
The inauguration of the Holy Eucharist is celebrated first and foremost on Maundy Thursday in its natural place the night before Jesus died on the Cross. But because that celebration takes place very much in the context of the sadness of the events of Christ’s passion and death, the Church gives us this second feast in the course of the year to help us to get to explore more fully the Eucharist, the commemoration of the Last Supper.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket