St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Lent IV : Fr Tony Hogg

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 Today has more variation of names than any other Sunday in the Church Calendar.
1. Lent 4 
2. Mothering Sunday based either on the custom of paying a visit to your Cathedral – your mother church on this day. Or the custom of visiting mother and picking wild flowers from the hedgerows as a thanks posy. 
3. This was often for the maids from the big houses, whose only day off it was. The giving  you maintain here today with your Mothering Sunday remembrances.
4. After the reading in the old prayer book – “ Jerusalem which is the mother of us all”
5. Laetare Sunday after the opening words of the Introit ; “Rejoice ye with Jerusalem”
6. Refreshment Sunday – referring to the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 and relaxation of Lenten discipline e.g. the eating of simnel cake.
After all that no wonder Father is in the pink! Another relaxation from the Lenten purple.
Today we shall consider the idea of refreshment and concentrate on th
miracle of the feeding of the 5000. We will never know what happened 
on that grassy plain near Bethsaida Julius but we can consider it in 
three ways.
We may consider it simply as a miracle in which Jesus multiplied loaves
and fishes. Some may find that hard to conceive of: and some may find 
it hard to reconcile with the fact that is just what Jesus refused to do  at 
his temptations. If we can believe in the sheer miraculous character of
 this miracle, then let us to continue to do so. However there are two 
other possible considerations for us to look at.
It may be that this was really a sacramental meal. In the rest of the 
chapter the language of Jesus is exactly that of the Last Supper, when 
he speaks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. It could be that 
at this meal it was but a morsel, like the sacrament, that everyone 
received; and that the thrill and wonder at the presence of Jesus and the 
reality of God turned the sacramental crumb into something which 
richly nourished their hearts and souls, as happens at each and every 
mass. Jesus first gave thanks with the breaking of the bread. The Greek 
word for ‘thanksgiving’ is :eucharisteo” where we get our word 
“Eucharist from”, so the connection is strong ‘Blessed are you Lord 
God of all creation through your goodness we have this bread to offer.”There could also be another and lovely explanation. It is difficult to
think that the crowd left on a nine mile expedition without making any 
preparations at all. They would certainly possess supplies for the way. 
But it may that none would produce what he had, for he selfishly – and 
very humanly- wished to keep it all for  himself. It may be then that 
Jesus, with that rare smile of his, produced the little store that he and 
his disciples had; with sunny faith he thanked God for it and shared it out. 
Moved by his example, everyone who had anything did the same, and in 
the end, there was enough and more than enough for everyone.
It may be that this is a miracle in which the presence of Jesus turned a 
crowd of selfish men and women into a fellowship of sharers. It may be 
that this miracle represents the biggest miracle of all – one which 
changed not loaves and fishes but men and women.
However that may be, there were certain people there without whom 
the miracle would not have been possible.
Andrew. There is a contrast between Andrew and Philip. Philip was the 
man who said: “The situation is hopeless. Nothing can be done.” 
Andrew was the man who said: “ I’ll see what I can do: and I’ll trust 
Jesus to do the rest.” Andrew did not know what he was doing when he 
brought the lad to Jesus that day, but he was providing material for a 
miracle. So, my dears, we never know what possibilities we are releasing 
when we bring someone to Jesus, by our teaching at home or in Sunday 
School or wherever.
Pope Benedict has this to say “ The miracle was not worked from nothing, but from a first 
modest sharing of what a simple lad had brought with him. Jesus does 
not ask us for what we do not have. Rather he makes us see that if each 
person offers the little he has the miracle can always be repeated: God is 
capable of multiplying our small acts of love and making us share his 
Jesus needs what we can bring to him. It may not be much but he needs 
it. It may well be that the world is denied miracle after miracle and 
triumph after triumph because we do not bring to Jesus what we have 
and what we are. If we would lay ourselves on the altar of his service 
there is no knowing what he could do with us and through us. We may 
be sorry that we have not more to bring, but that is no reason for not 
bringing what we have. Little is always much in the hands of God. So may we all be refreshed in his service today and in the week ahead. Amen


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