Monday, July 27, 2009

Reflection: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again, I bring you the weekly Following the Message question/reflection on the Gospel. This week we moved from Mark, which we had been reading most of this year, to John. And even better, from one of my favorite chapters in John's Gospel!! So here we go:

For all the readings for this Sunday follow this link to the USCCB page.

The question: How have I experienced the superabundant generosity of God?

Alternate questions for kids: When was I overwhelmed by a great gift?

Jesus' miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fish not only fed the vast crowd, but it far exceeded their desires. This miracle, prefiguring Jesus' offering of himself in the Eucharist, illustrates that God's generosity is boundless. Indeed, God's generosity is at the very root of creation itself. "St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it, for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 293). "We believe that (creation) proceeds from God's free will; he wanted to make his creatures share in his being, wisdom, and goodness (CCC 295). We offer "a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving" for creation at every Eucharist. "In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ" (CCC 1359). Through the Eucharist, "the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all of his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption, and sanctification. Eucharist means first of all 'thanksgiving'" (CCC 1360).

Reflecting on the Gospel passage of the feeding of the 5,000 and this question of how I have experienced the superabundant generosity of God, I realize that I could go a number of ways with this. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time, since it's already late and I'm leaving town tomorrow. But I want to try and at least offer a small reflection on this.

First there is the obvious answer to this question. Of course, the most amazing gift ever would be Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Every Christian would agree with this. But as is revealed in the Catechism passages quoted above, there is this and much more in the Eucharist, which this Gospel passage prefigures (we're close, just need to go deeper into John 6). The Eucharist is such an amazing gift!! To be able to actually consume the flesh and blood of our savior is an extraordinary miracle!! And we can experience this every Sunday ... every day actually. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have started attending daily mass and one of the best parts about doing that is being able to participate in the Eucharistic celebration every day! Every day!! How extraordinary!

There is one other way I see the generosity of God. I hesitate to go do this direction, but I'm being brave (picture a brave face, please) and I'm going there. I read the question and I read the paragraph of CCC quotes and I think about life, namely children. God creates life: He does it out of love, He gives us free will so that we will freely choose to love Him. And this is His amazing, superabundant, generous gift to us. Life! And so many people I know (soooooo many) see that every day when they look at their children. They see God's gift of life to their children and it reminds them that God gave them this gift as well, and those children are placed in their lives to form as His people. It's an amazing responsibility and an amazing gift. It's something I'm constantly reminded of (what's the count up to now for 2009?? Anyone know? I think I lost count, must be about 15-20 babies born to family and friends of mine just this year), it hurts a lot, but I am still happy for those who get to experience this life-giving gift everyday.

It also reminds me of a discussion I got into online recently. The discussion had to do with suicide, in particular the pros and cons of assisted suicide. I feel that it is wrong and most of the others within this discussion felt that it wasn't. For me, my world view is formed based on my morals and values. If I value life as a gift from our Father in heaven, than suidcie would be like throwing that gift away. You are basically telling God that you don't care for this gift of life He has given you and you're thowing it back at Him.

Life is a gift!! I see the generosity of God in my life, in the fact that He gave me life and just in everyday things that are a part of my life; I see it in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross; and I see it in the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. I felt it too, when I was pregnant, particularly the second time. I felt that gift of life in me, that developing baby that would one day be in my arms. And I would sit in front of the Eucharist in adoration every Monday with that life growing inside of me and I would be overwhelmed. It is overwhelming, plain and simple.

Your turn: How have you experienced the superabundant generosity of God? All comments are welcome (just don't expect me to respond this week, I'm leaving town and will be sans Internet!).

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  1. I have recently experienced God's overabundant generosity in bringing my 8 year old daughter back home from the hospital have 3 months. She survived a rare brain inflammation of unknown origins, survived a drug-induced coma, re-learned how to sit and walk and eat and talk all over again. I can remember a time when we had doubts that she would survive. After relief that she would live, we had doubts that she would get out of bed on her own again or talk again. Now she is close to being a functioning 8 year old again.
    The experience showed me so much about God's sacrifice of His only Son on the agonizing cross. He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for a sinful people.
    I don't know why Meredith got sick and I can't answer that question for her. But I remind her that we can now daily thank Him for healing her.