5th Week, Saturday, Feb 15th: Reflection & Liturgy

1 Kings 12:26-32; 13:33-34 / Mark 8:1-10

Jeroboam fears tribal reunion: He thwarted worship in Jerusalem.

In May 1915, the Germans sank the United States passenger ship the Lusitania. They claimed it was carrying munitions to be used against them. United States officials denied the charge. They went even further. They used the sinking of the Lusitania to mobilize public opinion to get the United States into World War I. Later it was proven that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, and that the United States officials knew it.
Not only did the officials lie, but they used their lie as a springboard to get us into a war that killed and maimed tens of thousands of Americans. Jeroboam did something similar to this. Not only did he thwart a possible unification, but he also led his people into further sin by setting up worship places of false gods.
Have we ever found ourselves compounding sin? Sin is the wind that blows out the lamp of reason.
Whenever it comes to the topic of authority and religion, much can be said and much can be left unsaid. Yet, it cannot be denied that authority and religion are not mutually exclusive; in fact they are distinctly connected in some areas.

In the 1st reading, king Jeroboam used his authority to turn the hearts of his people away from the God of Israel to worshipping idols. That is the adverse effect of authority on religion especially when the motives are far from religious.

King Jeroboam used his authority to secularize the sacred. But the warning at the end of the 1st reading pointed out the dire consequence of such a deed. Eventually, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was annihilated. But when authority is understood as a position of service, then authority will look into how people are fed and taken of.

In the gospel, Jesus multiplied the loaves to feed the people. He did this to show God's authority in providing and caring for people. In a way, Jesus was showing that as long as we care for people, then God will provide. Our mission is to sanctify the secular, so that the presence of God can be seen in all aspects of life. God's authority will provide whatever we will need for this mission.
Saturday of 5th Week: Liturgy


The first reading describes the efforts of king Jeroboam to strengthen the political separation of the northern tribes of Israel by adding to it a religious separation.
Jesus, on the other hand, brings people together and gives them something to eat when they are hungry, as a sign of his mercy, his efforts toward unity and of the food of the Eucharist. Let us seek this unity and this food.

Opening Prayer
To those who are not filled with themselves,
you reveal yourself Lord, our God,
as the giver of all good things.
Make us yearn for justice and peace
and for all things that endure.
Give us a copious meal
of your word and your life
through him who is our bread of life,
Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.

Jeroboam is the first king of the northern kingdom. Territorially, he is at a distinct advantage, with eleven of the tribes. But in not having Jerusalem and Judah, he lacks a center of Hebrew life, the temple and its cult. How can he hold the hearts of the people if they cannot journey to Jerusalem, their spiritual home? He would have to provide an appropriate alternative.
He proceeds to set up two new sanctuaries, each with its own calf of gold. The calves are images of Yahweh himself. “Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” It was an idolatrous act, forbidden by the Decalogue.
Jeroboam fed his people on deception. Jesus feeds people with the truth. In reading the Bible, we are impressed by the extent to which it is a human book, with more than its share of contrasts and contradictions. Jesus had no intention of sending four thousand people away hungry. With Jesus providing, they ate until they were filled.
But the evangelist makes it clear that we are no less privileged. Notice the action of Jesus. Taking the seven loaves, he gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to the people. Clearly the formula is Eucharistic, and the sense is clear. We are no less blessed than that hungry crowd. Throughout life we are fed with the Eucharistic bread. That is Mark’s message for us in that wondrous feeding. In Eucharist we give thanks for that sacred banquet, our key to eternal life.

Points to Ponder
My own calf of gold
Contrast Jeroboam and Jesus
The Eucharist, our food for the journey

– For agencies of international aid, for governments and the United Nations, that they may use all human potentials and all the resources of science and nature to feed the hungry and to develop the earth, we pray:
– For all Christian communities, that they may not abandon anyone in need and that we may open-handedly serve one another, we pray:
– For this community gathered here to break the Lord’s bread, that the Spirit of the Lord make us the sign of God’s generosity and love, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our generous Father,
in these simple gifts of bread and wine,
of everyday food and drink,
you let Jesus, your Son,
give himself to us
as the bread of life.
In the strength of this bread,
may we become to one another
fresh bread broken and shared
to nourish one another
on our journey to you.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
We give you thanks, generous Father,
for giving us Jesus, your Son,
as our food for the road
to you and to one another.
Give us the will and the creativity
to bring to a hungry world
food and a fair share
in the goods of the earth.
But help us also to break the bread
of dignity and hope to all.
And be yourself the highest fulfillment
of all our aspirations,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

When we pray the Our Father, we ask the Lord to give us our daily bread. That is not only the food of every day, and the Eucharist, but all we need from day to day. May God give you this and bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.