Sunday, March 2, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Lent


GOSPEL. ST. JOHN vi, 1-15.

(The Multiplication of the Loaves. Simon of Cyrene.)

At that time Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is that of Tiberias: and a great multitude followed Him, because they saw the miracles which He did on them that were diseased. Jesus there fore went up into a mountain: and there He sat with His disciples. Now, the Pasch, the festival day of the Jews, was near at hand. When Jesus therefore had lifted up His eyes and seen that a very great multitude cometh to Him, He said to Philip: Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this He said to try him, for He Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered Him: Two hundred penny-worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that everyone may take a little. One of His disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, saith to Him: There is a boy here that hath five barley loaves, and two fishes: but what are these among so many? Then Jesus said: Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. The men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to them that sat down; in like manner also of the fishes as much as they would. And when they were filled, He said to His disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost. They gathered up therefore, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above to them that had eaten. Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world. Jesus therefore, when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king, fled again into the mountain Himself alone.

How great is the love and the providence of God, how strikingly manifested in this holy gospel! With exceeding kindness Jesus permitted the large multitude to follow Him, and He would not suffer them to depart till He had satisfied the hunger of the five-thousand people. But when they were satiated and had an abundance left over, they desired to make Him their king.

After a short while they lead their king to the cross, and there is no one who is willing to help Him carry that cross, "And as they led Him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country: and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus." And thus there was not one of the multitude that accompanied Him from curiosity or sympathy, not one of the many whom He had cured miraculously, upon whom He had lavished so many favors, and these people in their hearts knew that He was the Messias and the true son of God yet there was not one who was willing to help Jesus carry the cross. O fortunate Simon, though forced, you overcome human respect, and you are inspired to carry the cross of Jesus as one of His true disciples. For this act you and your children receive the most glorious reward, the gift of the true faith, and of life everlasting.

Christian soul, what should you learn for your own salvation from the five thousand whose hunger was satisfied, and from the conduct of Simon, the Cyrenian?


Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that we, who are afflicted for our deeds as we deserve, may be relieved by the comfort of Thy grace.

"In Thee, O Cross of Jesus Christ, is eternal salvation; in Thee is life and protection against our enemies; in Thee is the source of heavenly sweetness, the essence of all virtues, the consummation of all holiness." Help us, O Jesus, to take with Simon the cross upon our shoulders, and faithfully to carry it after Thee, so that, through the grace of Thy cross, we may be nourished in life, and, after death, rise again unto eternal joy. Amen.

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