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Tuesday after Epiphany, 07-01-20: Reflection & Liturgy

1 John 4:7-10 / Mark 6:34-44

God is love: Whoever loves knows God.

An old woman suddenly began to have doubts about the existence of God. The woman couldn’t understand why this was happening. Finally, she decided to go to a priest for help. “I’m having terrible problems with my faith,” she confessed. “Is there anything I can do?” The priest’s suggestion surprised her. He simply said, “Begin to love your neighbor more actively and more concretely.” The priest’s advice jibes with John’s words in today’s reading. John says, “Whoever loves . . . knows God.”

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How do we handle faith questions or doubts when they arise?
“I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother, and I found all three.” Anonymous
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Generally speaking, we have two types of reactions to a situation. Either we react to it emotionally, or we react to it rationally. When Jesus saw the large crowd, He took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He set Himself to teach them at some length. It was understandable that Jesus felt for the people, or if we wish to say, He acted from His emotions. But it went to the extent that He ignored the rationality of feeding the crowd of 5000 with five loaves and two fish.
His disciples seemed to be more rational, especially when it was going to cost them 200 days' wages, since the average wage for a day was 1 denarii. But Jesus challenged His disciples to gather what was available. And from what was available, out came a miracle.
Essentially, today's gospel passage continues the Epiphany message that God is our Helper and Provider. Yet like the disciples, we often use too much of our rationality. But what the Lord is asking of us is our availability.
To serve the Lord is to make our hearts available for Him. Hence, we have to feel the promptings, especially the challenges the Lord is giving us, just like He challenged His disciples when He told them: Give them something to eat yourselves. It is not so much our rationality that matters when we serve the Lord, but rather our availability for Him to do great wonders through us.
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Tuesday After Epiphany: LITURGY

GOD IS LOVE

Introduction:
Here comes the great theme of the apostle John, almost like an obsession, both in his letter and in the gospel: God is the origin of all love. For he is love: a love that is giving, a love, as the gospel shows, that is compassionate. Self-communication is the mark of love: within God, from God to people and the world. He gives us his Son, who showed in his person that to love is to give up oneself out of love. And on the part of people, love means also to receive, to be willing to accept love as a pure gift, both from God and from one another.

Opening Prayer:
Lord God, our Father,  you took the initiative of loving us  before we could ever love you,  for love is your name  and you are a God of people.  Help us to recognize this love become flesh in Jesus your Son.  Let him stir and transform the very depths of our hearts, that we too may offer to you and to people all the love of which you have made us capable through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Commentary:
The story of the loaves and fish has been heard so often that we might think it needs little retelling. But there is a single verse in the reading from the letter of John that gives meaning to the Gospels as a whole. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might five through him.”
A real appreciation for that verse opens fully the door of Christian faith. In short, we do not live justly to win God’s favor. God’s favor was won before we were even conscious of it, and through no effort of ours. Since God’s favor has touched us, our love is simply reciprocal. Many people see the Christian life as an endless effort to get somewhere. But the truth of the matter is that we are already there. We were the recipients of that love before we were even aware of it.
Today’s Gospel, then, is a perfect fit. It is hard to escape the Eucharistic allusions that can be heard in that narrative. As happens at each Eucharist, Jesus takes the loaves, blesses and distributes them. Of course, the event itself was not a Eucharist, but the evangelist reminds us that we are no less privileged than those people in the desert. At every Mass, we are truly nourished by the Lord as we feed on his sacramental body and blood. What greater sign of our being favored and loved?
What is vitally important is that we bring that love of God to others. To bring communion to the sick is a very singular ministry. In that act, the presence of Christ is complemented by our own charity in an outreach to the less fortunate (whether in sickness, poverty, or some other misfortune). Christ is telling us that where our feet go, he can go; where our eyes see, he can see; where our ears hear, he can hear. For this reason, it is important to realize that God’s love flows into us before it ever makes its return to God.

Points to Ponder:
God loved us first
Eucharist as God’s concern for us
Ministering to the disabled.

Intercessions:
– For the Churches groping for unity, that one day they may eat together from the same table the one bread of the Lord, we pray:
– For all people of good will, that they may build up together a just society based on fairness and love where there is no room for any discrimination, we pray:
– For all of us here, that we may form a community of service, love and hope, open to all needs and all just aspirations, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts: Lord God, loving Father, in every Eucharistic celebration you let us experience again and again your self-giving love. Accept in this bread and this wine our own meager efforts to become to people bread broken and shared, together with Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion: Lord, our God and Father, accept our thanks for loving us even before we could love you. Prepare us not only to give love but also to receive it from you and from one another in all simplicity and gratitude. For this is the way you taught us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessing:
We have broken bread with the Lord. This commits us to call on all human resources to share with those in need food, justice, culture and freedom. May God strengthen and bless you for this task, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.