Every day, we need to go to our quiet place...

Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:

August 3, A.D. 2008

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word: Isaiah 55:1-3
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Matthew 14:13-21

A reflection on today's Scripture:

Meaning is so very important in our lives. Teenagers and young people in their twenties are particularly at risk when nothing in their experience makes any sense.

A report in TIME magazine a few years ago emphasized that young, bored Muslims in Britain are particularly susceptible to extremist propaganda, and are drawn to extremist Islamic "seminaries" in Pakistan and elsewhere. There, a distorted form of Islamic teaching teaches them that self-immolation is an ultimate value, pleasing to Allah (how blasphemous!). One simple form of sacrifice is particularly recommended—offering their bodies through terrorist acts such as suicide bombing to further the cause of this false philosophy.

How totally different is our Christian theology that the Son of God immolated Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. He was raised up on the Cross that He might draw all people to share in the beauty and strength of sacrificing love.

That's the love that keeps marriages together.

That's the love that draws young men and women to enter seminaries and novitiates to become consecrated priests and brothers and religious sisters.

That's the love that strengthens all followers of Christ, single or married, to know the peace and fulfillment that come from faithfulness to Mass and the sacraments, faithful to a Church that reaches out to sinners and all people in need.

How different this is from radical Islamic teaching. The effects of Christ's immolation were not death but life, not an insult to human dignity, but redemption of every human being, lifting each of us up from final nothingness to eternal joy and fulfillment. One is based on contempt for flesh—the other is founded on respect for life and the joy of living.

Today's Gospel, reported by all four of the Evangelists, is the clearest event in the life of Jesus to describe this great truth. Jesus came to feed and nourish the world. The multiplication of the loaves and fish is the prelude to Eucharist.

What is Eucharist?

Eucharist is the continuation of the greatest act of Love the world has ever known. As Jesus dies, He is transformed into the food of love, transforming everyone who dares to share in this divine nourishment.

Unfortunately, as the miracle is repeated over and over again, our reaction is the same—a weak and feeble faith that this is really Jesus, come to shock us into becoming more than weak, selfish human beings.

We believe, of course, that Jesus redeemed—that is, bought back the world from Satan's power. But do we really believe that Jesus longs to transform the world, to make every person holy?

So often our "Amen" at Mass is feeble and halfhearted. Our "Amen," as the priest or Eucharistic minister holds up the host before our eyes, is lacking in conviction, hardly the faith that would impel us to seize this God with passion and love and draw Him to our souls—and never let Him go, but to make us channels of justice and hope for the society around us.
O Lord,
we cannot ask You to die all over again to redeem us from indifference! What, then? Help us find meaning in the Sacrament You offer us.

Our fervor in received Eucharist can keep us from that boredom that so many experience in a life without meaning, a life that can lead to real trouble, and for many like those bored young men in Britain, to acts of violence.
O Prince of Peace,
bring peace to our world through all who feed on Your word and on Your Body and Blood!

- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
email: pwhitmore29 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lives of the saints:

Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:


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