Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Fourth Sunday in Lent—11 March A.D. 2018
Ave Maria!

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 20 Months old.
Socialized medicine in Britain cannot diagnose his problem, refuses to let him go elsewhere,
and now wants to take him off life-support.


Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647)—The Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes—c.1620

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Lenten Observance
Saint John's Gospel - Chapter vi

Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as “Lætare Sunday,” from the opening words of the Introit (Entrance Hymn). You will note the Rose colored vestments—a little less somber than the purple worn for most of Lent.  The color change indicates that Lent is about half over, and suggests that it is a good day to take a “breather from the Lenten exercises, and then to get back to it on Monday, making the best Lent you can until Easter Sunday.  “Lætare”—rejoice not so much that Lent is half over, but that we are this much closer to the celebration of our Lord's resurrection!

“There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes;
but what are these among so many?”[1]

The Gospel today is taken from Saint John's sixth chapter, which focuses so clearly on the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  This morning you heard only about the multiplication of common barley loaves. So I urge you to go home and read the rest of the chapter from your Bible, and learn how our Lord promised not just common bread, but the Bread of the Angels—His body and blood, soul and divinity in Holy Communion. 

This morning's Gospel serves to overcome one of the objections raised by unbelievers when they are told about Catholic belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Not unreasonably, they will wonder how Jesus could be in so many places simultaneously—how He could be in all the tabernacles of the world.  Even if they understand the difference between substance and appearance, they will struggle to understand how the substance of Jesus’ humanity and divinity can be extended to so many locations all over the world.  Quite likely, it was for this reason that our Lord worked this miracle just before His promise to give us His body and blood.

Saint John says that Jesus fed five thousand men.  The Latin text says 5,000 viri,  (Greek: οἱ ἄνδρες τὸν ἀριθμὸν ὡς πεντακισχίλιοι.[2]) suggesting that the total number fed, including women and children, was somewhat greater.  "Viri" means males, and we have no reason to believe that Jesus preached to an all male audience.  Saint Matthew’s account is more specific: “….five thousand men, besides women and children.”[3] So let's assume that six or seven thousand people shared those five loaves of bread—it may have been more.  Apart from a miracle, it would have taken a very sharp knife, indeed, to cut the loaves in that many pieces!   The fact that there would be leftovers from such small pieces is nothing short of amazing, and the fact they filled twelve baskets confirms nothing less than a miracle.

If God could multiply the loaves to such a degree, He certainly could do the same with Himself.  After all, an essential attribute of God is that He is everywhere.[4]  The Creator of all the substance and the Multiplier of loaves could have no problem in subsisting anywhere He chooses.

But we really don’t need to resort to such speculation (and this is why I ask you to read the whole chapter) for a little further on we read that “Jesus said to them: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world..”[5]  Not at all surprisingly, some of the crowd murmured: “This is a hard saying…. How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”[6]  And “after this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.”[7]

Jesus’ only answer was to reiterate the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  When people walked away, He did not back down on His claim in order to preserve His following—for it was the truth: one year later, on the night before He died, He would take “bread, and bless it, and break it: and give it to his disciples, and say: ‘Take ye, and eat. This is my body.’”  Likewise, He would give to them the chalice, saying: “Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins.” [8]  Indeed, He did what He said He would do!

    So, one final time, I ask you to read John 6 sometime today.  That way, on Holy Thursday, when we celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, you will be able to tell our Lord:  “Thank you Lord.  We remember you telling us, so there can be no doubt whatsoever—we thank you for the Bread of Life and the Chalice of unending salvation”!





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