"Fr. James, what's your favorite food?"
Ah, one of the questions I am asked quite frequently by children (and sometimes adults).
"Deep dish pizza."
"Which deep dish, Fr. James?" comes the follow-up.
"Lou Malnati's," I respond without hesitation.
Letters from a Pastor to His People- August 12, 2018
Something about the smell of baked bread captures my attention more than other smells. Maybe you as well. I don't know what it is. My hunger for food is aroused, and my desire to fulfill that arousal is increased, when I walk into a Subway or pass a bakery.
Two things have me musing on this reality. First is the line from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, our second reading this weekend: "So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma" (Eph 2:1-2).
A miracle from the sky. That is what the crowd wants when they ask Jesus, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?" (John 6:30). The people need a display of fireworks from heaven to confirm their faith.
The crowd is not way out of line in asking this. When God made the covenant with Noah, massive rains for forty days came from the sky. When God made another covenant with Moses, thunder, lightning, and a smoke-show appeared as well. When the prophet Elijah's mission was confirmed, he was taken up into the sky in a fiery chariot. It was not uncommon for God to provide aerial signs in the Old Testament.
Poor Philip. He must have felt like Jesus was picking on him. Why couldn't Jesus have looked to someone, anyone else for this dilemma? Why was Philip singled out?
"When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, 'Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?' He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do" (Jn 6:5-6).
Jeremiah was a prophet in Ancient Israel when Babylon destroyed Israel. He was a shepherd trying to help his confused flock. Unfortunately, there were fake shepherds competing with him: bad influences who led the people astray. "Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture" (Jer 23:1).
When Jesus Christ came around 600 years later, there were no shepherds, good or bad. "When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mk 6:34).
Are there shepherds 2000 years later? Yes. They are the Catholic priests.