26th July – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

This Sunday we begin our study of JOHN 6 in which Jesus introduces the Eucharist.

GOSPEL                                  John 6:1-15
Jesus gave out as much as was wanted to all who were sitting ready.

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee or of Tiberias and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.

Jesus feeding the 5000Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted. When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves. The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

Jesus gave various signs because they had the power to lead people to faith in him. The first sign he gave was the provision of abundant wine at the marriage feast of Cana. It ‘manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him’ (John 2:11).

The feeding of the five thousand was also a sign to the people, intended to lead them to faith in Jesus. They should have understood that if Jesus had the power to provide them with abundant bread (physical), he also had the power to give them bread from heaven (spiritual): ‘Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you’ (John 6:27). Rather than putting their faith in him, the people, instead, wanted to ‘take him by force to make him king [a secular liberator]’ (v 15), compelling him to escape into the hills. Signs must be read correctly if they are to bring us to saving faith in Jesus.

Peter and the Twelve correctly read the signs that Jesus gave and refused to leave him: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’ (John 6:68-69).

The Lord always works ‘signs’ in our lives. These should bring us to greater faith in him: ‘he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name’ (Luke 1:49). What are these ‘signs’? Every day he cares for us, stays at our side, provides for our needs and keeps us safe under his protection. Through his Word and through his Church he teaches us and directs our lives. In the Eucharist he nourishes us with his life-giving Word and feeds us with his own body and blood. These ‘signs’ should lead us into abundant life: ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).

Do you see the ‘signs’ in your life? Ask the Lord to show you the countless ways that he cares for you and gives you his life in abundance — his gifts of peace, joy and love. Thank him for these ‘signs’ of his love. Declare your faith in him. (BIBLE ALIVE)

Lord, teach me to read correctly the ‘signs’ of your love for me so that I may in grow in faith in you.

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