Chinese Mass：Every Sunday 2:15 p.m
Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)
Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin
After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering
[1st Reading – Gen.14:18-20; Ps.109; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.11:23-26; Gospel – Lk.9:11-17]
The first thing that we encounter in today’s gospel is how ‘Jesus made the crowds welcome’, which in turn made it easy for him to speak to them about the kingdom of God, something that might have been difficult if there was an ‘unwelcoming’ atmosphere. We are furthermore told that Jesus cured those who were in need of healing. These are all the things that Jesus performed quite regularly, and the Twelve Apostles, who were close to Jesus, were accustomed to see him perform such things on a regular basis … But Jesus surprises them yet again and does something that he has never done before! He feeds ‘about five thousand men’ with only five loaves and two fish!
Jesus seemed to be at ease and was enjoying himself preaching and talking about the kingdom of God. He in fact preached for the whole day. It was getting towards late afternoon when the Twelve Apostles asked Jesus to send the people away … Now, this was not because of jealousy or any other opposing sentiment on their part, but instead, it was the care they had for the people. The Twelve realised that the ‘five thousand men’ had been listening to Jesus for the whole day and therefore they had not eaten anything … They also realised that it was a lonely place and returning back to their homes would be late and dangerous. One can say that the Twelve seemed to be more concerned with the people listening to Jesus than with themselves … Then, after the people leave to return home, they will have time for themselves with Jesus anyway, so this appears to be the least of their concern!!! They were concerned about the people listening to Jesus!
Jesus too was concerned about those listening to him. But unlike the twelve, Jesus did not want to send the ‘five thousand men’ away and instead he wanted to keep them with him because he saw that they were ready to listen to him about the Kingdom of God! If they were ready to listen to him, he was prepared to keep going … Therefore, in response to the Apostle’s concern, Jesus offers another solution … ‘Do not send them away… but give them something to eat, yourselves!’
At this point the Twelve informed Jesus that they had no more than five loaves and two fish (which may suffice for the twelve and Jesus, but surely not for five thousand men). At the same time they told Jesus that they were ready to go and buy food for all these people … But this would also raise another problem: who was going to pay for it?! We are talking about five thousand men who had not eaten anything all day!!! Jesus in response did not ask the Twelve to go and buy any material food for them, but instead asked them to prepare the people for the true food, by sitting them down in groups of about fifty. They followed Jesus’ suggestion and once everything was prepared according to Jesus’ words, then, he united himself to the Father in prayer, blessed the bread and gave it to them. Before, he gave ‘spiritual food’. Now he is giving them ‘real food’. He broke the bread and gave it to his disciples to distribute among the crowd. We are told that ‘they all ate as much as they wanted, and when the scraps remaining were collected they filled twelve baskets.’ Twelve baskets – the same number as The Twelve who did what Jesus asked of them and gave the people food to eat … through the intervention of Christ.
“Lord, you asked the Twelve to prepare the people so that they can receive You, the true food, in the best way possible. Give us the humility that we need to be able to do the same and let ourselves be prepared to receive you in us. Thank you Lord!”
Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.
(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )