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Tuesday after Epiphany – Christmas
Readings: I Jn 4:7-10; Mk 6:34-44.
1/ First Reading: NAB 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. 8 Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. 10 In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
2/ Gospel: NAB Mark 6:34 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. 36 Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” 38 He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” 39 So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. 41 Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to (his) disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. 44 Those who ate (of the loaves) were five thousand men.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.
I. THEME: God’s love is expressed through Christ.
In yesterday readings, Jesus, the Son of God, revealed the truth of God for human beings. In today reading, he revealed God’s love for them. It is very difficult to talk about love because it is so abstract; but the expression of love is very concrete. Therefore, people can recognize God’s love through the mystery of Incarnation- Jesus was appeared in human form, though people never see God. People can also recognize the true love from all the fake ones by evaluating the concrete expressions of love.
Today readings help people to recognize God’s love for human beings and the true love from all faked ones. In the first reading, St. John let us know the three truths of God’s love. First, the origin of all human love are from God because “God is love.” Secondly, God so loved the world that He gave the world His Only Son (Jn 3:16). Lastly, God loves people before they love him. In the Gospel, Jesus had compassion for people when he saw them because they are like sheep without shepherds. After he taught them to provide the spiritual food, he performed a miracle to provide the material food for them.
1/ Reading I: God loves human beings.
1.1/ The origin of all human love: The author ascertained, “love originates from God” and “God is love.” According to the Book of Genesis, human beings are created according to God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26). Many scriptural scholars said that love makes people to become like God more than anything else. Clement of Alexandria declared: “When people love, they are practicing to become like God.” When we love, we are nearer to God more than any other activities. Since God is love, if people want to be like God, they must learn to love others. Whoever don’t love, they don’t know God.
1.2/ God’s love for human beings: The author described God’s love for human beings as follows: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.” When we look at the Infant Jesus in the manger, we should feel two things: First, God so loved people: There is no worldly father who wants to sacrifice his only son to die for others, especially with a lonely, shameful and violent death on the cross. The story of father Abraham who was ready to sacrifice Isaac, his son, for God helps us to feel partly God’s love for us. Secondly, people aren’t worthy of God’s love. People didn’t do anything to be worthy of God’s love; in opposition, people caused, are causing and shall cause many sorrows for God. The purpose of God’s sending of His Son is for us to have eternal life. In order to achieve this purpose, Jesus must die on the cross. Besides, he also bestows on us so many blessings to help us to live a worthy life on earth.
1.3/ God loves people before they love Him: Love is the only reason of God’s creation, providence and redemption. First, God creates people because He loves them and wants people to return His love. Secondly, God can create robots and let them live; but He wants to create people to care for people. Lastly, in the redemption, God’s love is clearly shown, as the author wrote, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
2/ Gospel: Jesus loves, teaches and feeds people.
2.1/ Jesus loves and teaches people: Mark reported, “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.” To better understand this sentence, one needs to read Ezekiel, chapter 34, to understand why the sheep is without a shepherd. According to the prophet, the sheep are scattered, not because they are without shepherds, but because they have irresponsible shepherds whom paid attention only to their milk, wool and meat; not to their miserable condition. If leaders don’t care for, teach and lead their people, how can people know to live a good life and to avoid all dangers in their life?
2.2/ Jesus worked a miracle to feed five thousand people:
(1) People forgot to eat because they had been so busy to hear Jesus’ teaching: Mark reported, “By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late.Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”” The disciples might think that the duty of a religious leader is only to provide the spiritual food for people. Jesus wanted to teach them a lesson: A preacher must not only provide the spiritual food for people but also find a way to provide them with the material food in a difficult situation.
(2) Jesus demanded his disciples to feed people: He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” Through this conversation, one can recognize right away Jesus’ uncalculated and the disciples’ calculated love. Jesus thought only about love, they thought about spending their money.
(3) Jesus did a miracle from five loaves and two fish: Jesus knows what he is going to do; bur he still wants the disciples’ co-operation. He asked them: “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.”So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass.The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties.
(4) The figure of the sacrament of the Eucharist: “Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to (his) disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all.” All four evangelists reported this miracle. In John, this miracle leads to the sermon on the sacrament of the Eucharist in most of chapter six; even though John didn’t report Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist in his Last Supper. Through this sacrament, God shows He still loves, care for and feed His people everyday.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must feel God’s love in our life before we can love Him and others.
– God’s love for us is uncalculated, free and unlimited. Only this love can help us to overcome all obstacles and to be loyal to Him until the end.
– The sacrament of the Eucharist is the source of love because out of love, Jesus sacrificed his life as the offering for our sins. If we feel that we are selfish, lacking of love, hard to forgive others, this sacrament will increase God’s love in us.