Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jul 30, 2012

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary reflections for the eighteenth Sunday of ordinary time - August 5, 2012.

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time [b]

August 5, 2012


Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
John 6:24-35


August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration
       Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima in 1945
August 9: Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Nagasaki in 1945
       United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples


Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 2

If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity.
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 6

A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, "masks" of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.
-- John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte

We have a lot of work to do. Every time we reach out and assuage someone's hunger, and do that in memory of Jesus, a sense of Eucharist will bring to consciousness the Spirit and the real presence of Jesus - in us, through us, among us. That Spirit alone is capable of transforming us and the world.
-- Miriam Therese Winter, MMS

Thoughts for your consideration

In the Exodus story God provides food for the people of Israel.  God is concerned about the needs of the people.  Concern for the poor and the hungry is an essential element of Catholic Social Teaching.  In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict wrote
Feed the hungry (cf. Mt 25: 35, 37, 42) is an ethical imperative for the universal Church, as she responds to the teachings of her Founder, the Lord Jesus, concerning solidarity and the sharing of goods. Moreover, the elimination of world hunger has also, in the global era, become a requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet.

In the letter to the Ephesians, the people are reminded that they are called to renewal – to put away ‘old corrupting desires’ and to live in a new spirit from Christ.  To build on the first reading, we care called to something more than fulfilling our own desires or our own personal needs. Concern for the poor and for those in need is an essential element of Catholic Social Teaching. In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict wrote: 
The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbors, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practice this charity ….

In the gospel story the people search for Jesus and finally find him on the other side of the lake.
Jesus points out their desire for food and calls them to something more than just free food, as important as that is.  God desires to satisfy our need for essential things like food, but also desires to give us “a bread that gives life to the world.”  God wants to empower people.  God wants people to create a world where all people have enough to eat and all share their food with others in dignity and respect.  Concern for the poor and all the people of our world is essential to Catholic Social Teaching.  Creating a world of justice and of healthy social structures and relationships is essential to Catholic Social Teaching. In his  encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict wrote:
Testimony to Christ's charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part and parcel of evangelization, because Jesus Christ, who loves us, is concerned with the whole person. These important teachings form the basis for the missionary aspect of the Church's social doctrine, which is an essential element of evangelization. The Church's social doctrine proclaims and bears witness to faith. It is an instrument and an indispensable setting for formation in faith.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

How does the spirit call you (us) today to have a special concern for those in need?
What situation of need is calling out to you (us)?


In the readings today, we find examples of people who desire food. 
When have you experienced a strong desire for something? 
What did you learn from your desire?


From Anthony DeMello’s collection The Song of the Bird

When his ship stopped at a remote island for a day, the bishop determined to use the time as profitable as possible. He strolled along the seashore and came across three fishermen attending to their nets. In Pidgin English they announced to him that centuries before missionaries had Christianized them. "We Christians!" they said proudly pointing to one another.

The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord's Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked. "What do you say then when you pray?"

We lift eyes towards heaven. We pray, "We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!"

The bishop was appalled at the primitive, downright heretical, nature of the prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor learners, but they gave it all they had and before the bishop sailed away the next day, he had the satisfaction of hearing them go through the formula faultlessly.

Month later his ship happened to pass those islands again and the bishop, as he paced the deck reciting the evening prayer, recalled the pleasure of the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray, thanks to his patient efforts.

Suddenly he saw a spot of light in the east that kept approaching the ship. As he gazed in wonder seeing three figures walking on the water, the captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight. They were the bishop's fishermen, of course!

"Bishop", they exclaimed, "we heard your boat go past and have come in a hurry to meet you."

"What is it you want?" asked the awe-stricken bishop.

"Bishop,” they said, "we are so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. "We say: Our father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come! then we forget. Tell us the prayer again."

It was a chastened bishop who replied, "Go back to your island, my friends, and each time you pray, say "We are Three, You are Three, have mercy on us!"

Actions - Links

The Institute for Food and Development Policy better known as Food First--is a member-supported, nonprofit 'peoples' think tank and education-for-action center. Their work highlights root causes and value-based solutions to hunger and poverty around the world, with a commitment to establishing food as a fundamental human right.  See their web site at:

“Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.”  Find out more at

Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical, Caritas in Veritate ("Charity in truth") is available at:

“Crazy Facts”

The Advocacy Center (formerly the Task Force for Battered Women/ Child Sexual Abuse Project) has provided support, advocacy and education for survivors of domestic violence since 1977, survivors of child sexual abuse since 1982 and survivors of adult sexual assault since 2003.  The following facts are from their web site:
* In 85% of sexual abuse situations children and teens are sexually abused by someone they know and trust.
* 1in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused by the time they reach age 18.
* Approximately 1/3 of all juvenile victims of sexual abuse are children younger than 6 yrs. of age.
* Children who grow up in a family where there is domestic violence are 8 times more likely to be sexually molested within that family.
* 70% of child sex offenders had between one and nine victims, 23% had ten to forty victims.
* Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute 1 to 4 % of cases reported.

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, empower your people to do what is right.
For the millions or billions of people, living the experience of poverty and hardship today, we pray….
For people who are suffering without access to medical care, we pray….
For our children, millions of whom have no access to education, we pray….
For our church, the people of God, who are called to work for justice, we pray….
For our nation, filled with a great diversity of people, who are challenged to work for the common good of all, we pray…..
For our world, blessed with billions of people and called to be a community of solidarity, charity, and justice, we pray….
For our planet, stressed by overuse and misuse, we pray…..

Prayer - Meditation
The Dinner Party - A poem by Judy Chicago

And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life's creatures
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

The Dinner Party is a poem that is part of Judy Chicago’s large work of art. It can be viewed at

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