Something unusual happened in our gospel reading this weekend. And it will continue to happen for the next four weeks. We jumped from the gospel of Mark to the gospel of John, chapter 6. Such a shift in the book of Sunday readings is highly unusual and deserves some comment. One purpose is to supplement the gospel of Mark which is the shortest of the four gospels; the other more important purpose is to give the faithful an extended teaching on the Eucharist.
Today we heard the story of the multiplication of the loaves, an event also included in the other three gospels. The fourth gospel does more than relate the miracle, however. John continues with a long discourse about the Jesus as the bread of life. Week 2: Jesus calls himself the bread of life; week 3: Jesus fulfills and surpasses the gift of manna; week 4: those who eat this bread will have eternal life; week 5: some people leave Jesus and the disciples remain--"to whom shall we go? (We celebrate our patronal feast of the Transfiguration on week 2 of this series which has its own set of readings.)
The weeks ahead will give us an opportunity to meditate upon the sacrament of the Eucharist. Although the forms of worship have changed over the centuries, the belief that bread and wine are transformed into the very body and blood of Jesus has remained unchanged. I hope that our love and gratitude for this sacrament will deepen in the weeks ahead as we listen and take to heart chapter 6 of John's gospel.
Today is a good opportunity to thank our small group of volunteers who prepare the church for our weekend services. Immediately after the 12pm mass on Friday, they are busy dusting, cleaning and polishing. I am truly grateful for your hard work!