The Gospel reading for today is by far one of my favorites, so much so that it was the Gospel at our wedding. If you have never done Lectio Divina before, this is a perfect verse to start with. Lectio Divina simply means “divine reading” and it’s a way to pray through Scripture instead of just reading it. There are many different forms you can find online, but I want to share a simple form with you today and include this verse and my brief reflections.
Begin as you would any prayer, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Take a few deep breaths. Try to relax and get comfortable. Take your time and do not rush. Read the Gospel for today slowly and as you read, see if anything in particular stands out to you. Take a quick mental note of the things that seem to pop off the page and thank God for speaking to you through this ancient text.
Next, read it again and try to put yourself into the story and focus on those few phrases that stood out to you. Maybe you were struck by Peter’s faith. Do you relate to his character in the story? Read slowly and prayerfully and allow yourself to enter the narrative.
Finally, take time to just be in the presence of God. Read it one last time and then simply sit in silence. No expectations, no questions, no fleeting thoughts. Just for a moment let God love you and just sit with him in silence. A good way to do this is pay attention to your breathing and simply say “Come Holy Spirit” with every breath you take. This can help you relax and focus on the Lord’s presence.
End your time of prayer and take any notes you think may be helpful for you in the future. Whenever I pray through this verse I am immediately drawn to the fact that there are three types of people in the story. There were those who were too afraid to get out of the boat, there was Peter as he was trusting, and then there was Peter as he was sinking and crying out. I ask myself this question often and I will ask it to you today, which of the three are you? From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!
Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and a content specialist for Ruah Woods, a Theology of the Body Ministry. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith.
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Today’s readings are all about provision and satisfaction. We see what happens to those who are grateful, and ungrateful for his gifts.
In the First Reading we see the Israelites lamenting about the manna. As we recall, in the beginning they were so excited and happy to be saved from starvation, but after a month or two of eating the same thing over and over again, they grew tired and began to complain, saying things were better off in Egypt because they at least had meat to eat! If you continue to read the Book of Numbers you will discover that God sent them meat like they asked, but it infected them with the plague because of their greed.
Not only did they take his blessings for granted, but they despised them. They claimed it would have been better to stay in Egypt.
This, of course, is ridiculous.
The Lord provides anyway, and gives them what they want. But very quickly they learn that sometimes the things they want that God does not want are not always the best things….
In the Gospel we read about the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus taught them, it got late, and the disciples told him to send the people home so they could get something to eat. Jesus, however, replies that it would not be necessary, because he would provide. (And note that it was a deserted place, farther away from the villages. How many that just got up and followed him would have thought to bring money to buy food on the way home?)
You know the rest of the story: two loaves, two fishes, and he feeds five thousand. Another thing to note is that they had twelve baskets full left! Not only does he provide enough for them, he even has extra.
Now what is the difference between those who got the manna and those who got the loaves and fish?
Those who had the loaves and the fish were satisfied.
The Israelites, who probably had more than enough manna to go around and were not physically hungry, were not satisfied.
Why does this matter?
The greed of the Israelites was their downfall. The greedy got the plague and died. The satisfied crowd was nourished soul and body by Jesus. Which would you rather happen to you?
Perpetua Phelps is a high school student residing in West Michigan and is the second of four children. Apart from homeschooling, Perpetua enjoys volunteering at her church, attending retreats, studying Latin and French, and reading classics such as Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, and Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc. She also spends much time writing novels, essays, and poetry for fun and competition. A passionate Tolkien fan, Perpetua is a founding member of a Tolkien podcast.
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“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Jesus is the Bread of Life as He feeds us with his body and blood through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. He provides for what we truly need, and He desires to transform us and make us holy.
In this Gospel story, many seek Jesus for what He can give them, such as miracles, signs, wonders, and even food. Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you,you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
This aspect of the Gospel is a calling to live for the eternal, seek what is above, and seek to do the will of God in all things. Jesus offers us our daily food and what we need, but He also reminds us that we were made for so much more! St. Augustine once said, “My heart is restless until it rests in You.” Seeking the will of God is the source of our greatest fulfillment. Peace with God can be ours by cultivating a personal relationship with the Lord through prayer, living a life rooted in the Sacraments, and replacing our sins and vices with virtue.
It is easy to get caught up in the world that surrounds us and forget that the Lord is the source of all our blessings. Even the Israelites lost sight of that face while wandering in the desert. They gave Moses credit for the bread that came down from Heaven, while it was from God the Father, as we read below:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from Heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.”
This Gospel is a beautiful reminder of how we are called to seek Christ and discover the means to follow Him. Jesus is the Bread of Life and when our eyes are set on Christ we come to know what it means to be fully alive.
Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She is the co-founder of www.inspirethefaith.com and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network www.WelcomeHisHeart.com. She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic Mom.com.
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In the Gospel reading today, we read the story of the beheading of John the Baptist. According to Matthew, at Herod’s birthday celebration, Herodias’ daughter performed a dance that very much delighted Herod. He was so taken with her that he said he would give her whatever she wanted. After consulting her mother, she asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Though the king hesitated because he did not want to put John to death, he also did not want to lose face in front of the guests. So he complied and had John beheaded.
Aside from the tragedy of John the Baptist’s death, this story should impel us to reflect on what we allow to influence us in our lives. We should ask ourselves: How can I apply the lesson in this story to my own life?
Herod knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway because he felt pressured by those around him.
How often do we do something we know that we shouldn’t? We allow others to persuade us, to change our point of view, or to make us think that something isn’t as bad as what we originally thought.
It’s the essence of peer pressure, and it happens all the time—even to adults—and especially in matters related to morality. We get so swept away by what others want that we conform to society’s standards and set aside God’s.
There are many within society, even in leadership positions, who like to teach that we should allow people to do what they want with their own bodies, in life-or-death situations, or within their own homes. “Live and let live,” they say.
Why is this wrong? It’s wrong because it perpetuates a society based on people’s wants rather than on God’s laws.
When we adopt this attitude, we allow ourselves to step further and further away from Christ. It’s like taking a brick house down one brick at a time. The loss of one brick may not matter. But when brick after brick is removed, only a shell of a house is left.
Every time we allow others to influence us so that we take an action we know is wrong, we are removing a “brick” from our path to heaven. If enough bricks are removed, the path becomes crumbled and obscured, and we lose sight of eternity with God.
That is why we must pray and talk to God on a regular basis. Not only that, but we must be quiet and block out the world that’s trying to distract us with its mesmerizing dance. When we do this, we can hear God’s response.
If we keep our eyes focused on God rather than on the dancer, we will not lose those bricks that pave our way to heaven. And any that have been lost can be replaced, for God is merciful, and He wants us to spend eternity with Him.
Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.
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This is such an interesting Gospel, it begins with Jesus preaching and the people who hear him are astonished, they acknowledge his wisdom. But that mood quickly changes as they realize who Jesus is and his credibility is lost. Now the people are less amazed and more wondering, “Who does he think he is?” and “Isn’t he one of our neighbors, no one special?”
And because of their lack of ability to see Jesus with the eyes of faith, what Jesus offers them is lost. He knows their lack of faith. He knows our lack of faith too. And that is what this passage leads me to consider – where do I lack faith?
On the nights insomnia strikes, my mind races toward my worries. Most of those worries are not in my control – so with great effort, I pull back from the worries, find the rosary beads on my night table and begin to pray. Sometimes it is a Divine Mercy Chaplet, a rosary, or the surrender prayer on repeat. As the beads pass through my fingers I mention a prayer request. Often then I am lulled back to sleep. If not, I move to gratitude, again holding my beads, each one counted not with a prayer or petition but of thanksgiving of something I am grateful for.
Worry is not a part of faith, but it is often part of our human condition. Fear can also be part of our human condition. Fear of the future or the unknown or sickness can all impact our faith. Again, the question, where do I lack faith? Today, sit with that question a bit, asking for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you. And then, pray to have more faith, to have your worry or fear replaced with faith.
Jesus has mighty deeds to do for us and through us, my prayer is that I never allow my lack of faith to prevent those mighty deeds. When we turn our fear over to Jesus, we will have a greater faith in him.
Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast, NotLukewarmPodcast.com, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At DeannaBartalini.com she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.
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