One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

January 04, 2011

For Tuesday after Epiphany

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

The root of the word “epiphany” shows up in the original language of the first reading today.
In this way the love of God was REVEALED to us [“epiphanied” to us]: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him.
Each day at Mass this whole week, the Church opens God’s Word to other great and small epiphanies of his “only-begotten Son” whom he sent “into the world.”
These epiphanies reveal the identity, mission, power, actions, thoughts, and even the feelings of God the Son who came to be born a man in Bethlehem.
Today the Gospel reveals that in seeing the vast crowd of humanity the Lord Jesus thought of them as “sheep without a shepherd.”
Although our English version here says “his HEART was moved with pity for them,” the original language uses a root word for a different bodily organ, the SPLEEN.
To us today that sounds quite odd.
It simply means the Lord Jesus had strong and deep feelings when he “saw the vast crowd,” for he thought them to be “like sheep without a shepherd.”
This vast crowd— the original language spells out that counting only the males there are five thousand— this vast crowd is not there by accident.
Rather, they have already seen or heard of the Lord Jesus, his amazing teaching, and his miracles.
Today in the Gospel, he had left behind the towns and the crowds around the lake of Galilee, to be alone with his apostles and to rest.
However, the vast crowd, as the Gospel had told it, went RUNNING after him.
Running like abandoned sheep eager to have the Lord Jesus be their shepherd!
Without the living experience of sheep, perhaps we would be deeply moved to think instead of a vast crowd of orphaned children desperate to have fathers and mothers, and running, running, running to catch up with the Lord Jesus.
Have you and I come to Mass today, running like love-starved orphans, eager to catch the Lord Jesus?
What would we find in him?
Today’s first reading tells us “God is agápe”— love.
So as to “epiphany” himself to us, reveal himself to us, the first reading goes on to say Love has “sent his Son as expiation for our sins” and also “so that we might have life through him”— and not merely earthly life [Greek “bios”], but even God’s life [Greek “zoe”].
The Son of Love in his Gospel today is moved deeply to see the vast crowd running after him.
The Gospel tells us his first response to these abandoned sheep was “to teach them many things.”
The testimony of God’s Word today is that the Son comes to give us life, to be expiation for our sins, and to be our teacher in “many things.”
Only as the last concern does he bless five loaves and two fish to turn them into more than enough to feed five thousand hungry men.
Even at that, he overdoes it to see to it they have the sacred number of exactly twelve— twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish.
The sacred overflow is a sign that he has come to do far more than fill their bellies.
It is an “over-flow,” just as the Biblical word epiphany is literally “over-show.”
We may be sheep running to find the care of a shepherd in the Lord Jesus.
We may be orphans running to find the deeply moved love of a father in the Lord Jesus.
Let us take care to come running for what he wants to give and to show.
In the testimony of God’s Word, it is far more than food for our bellies.
Rather, he wants to teach us, to give us his Godly life, and to expiate for our sins.
Let us come running for that.

That God Be Glorified in All


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