1988 July 11 – 17th Sun Ord Time (Prison Writings)
Jh 6, 1 – 15
JESUS REALIZEDTHAT THEY WOULD COME AND CARRY HIM OFF TO MAKE HIM KING, SO HE FLED BACK TO THE MOUNTAIN ALONE. John 6/15:
The next five weeks our Gospel text is taken from the sixth chapter of John. The first half of John’s Gospel is known as the “Book of Signs.” In them Jesus does seven mighty deeds called ‘Signs’. Each sign signifies that God is present in Jesus and that Jesus’ deeds are the deeds of God. After each sign a discourse follows with Jesus explaining the meaning of the signs.
In chapter six the great sign is the feeding of the 5000. This is John’s Eucharistic chapter. We will discover Jesus as the Bread Of Life. In today’s text we have the account of the feeding of the 5000. As in the case of the other signs in John’s Gospel, it is misunderstood. Jesus spends the rest of the chapter (the next four weeks) explaining its meaning.
It is important to note the first layer of misunderstanding of this sign is the crowd seeing in Jesus the political King they were desperately looking for. These people were poor. The basic necessities of life were never secure for them. They were the marginal, low income, unemployed, underemployed and homeless of Jesus’ day. They knew what it meant to be hungry. They thought making Jesus their King would keep their stomachs full. It is an understandable misunderstanding of the sign. The problem is not that Jesus’ being the Bread of Life has nothing to do with real hunger and poverty. The Gospels are filled with directives of Jesus to feed the hungry and attend the needs of the poor. The misunderstanding comes when the people see the answer to their poverty in making Jesus their King.
The people saw in the affairs of kings, the maintaining of their armies, the ruling of their courts and the power politics of their empires, the answer to their needs. The belief in power politics has not changed much over the centuries. It still dictates the ways of nations and peoples. The bread of life in which Jesus is offering is altogether different. The people in Jesus’ day misunderstood this sign and in many ways so do we. We’ll spend the next four weeks trying to unravel its meaning.
88 07 11
EUCHARIST DENIED: Last week we received word from the Chaplain that our nightly celebration of the Eucharist must halt. After Fr. O’Connor’s leaving, someone must have complained. The ‘Powers that Be’ here put a stop to our Liturgies and asked for a clear ruling from the people in Washington, D. C. Today we got word from Washington. The Masses must stop. Inmates are not allowed to have any alcohol under any circumstances. I will be getting hold of Bishop Bullock tomorrow to see what can be done. This is clearly a Church/State issue. The privilege to celebrate the Mass, for his Bishop, not the State, gives a Priest! Hopefully, by the time you read this we will have changed the minds of the officials in Washington.
Kathryn Epperson was reminded of Fr. Dick McSorley S .J. whom she met in Nevada last November at Dorothy Days Birthday Celebration. Fr. McSorley was a prisoner of war during World War II in the Philippines. They didn’t always have food but the Japanese did provide him with wine and bread to celebrate the Mass. It seems the Japanese had more respect for our tradition than does our own government. I will keep you posted as things develop.
88 07 11
A GREAT VISIT/MISSING HOME: My Mom and Kathryn’s visit was uplifting! So good to see them. I received many hugs. We talked for hours. Being with them and catching up on all the news from home made me terribly homesick. I only wish they could have taken me back home! Mom says I should lose ten more pounds. She sure knows how to hurt a guy especially when it’s true. I’m more than half done with my time. I hope the last half goes faster than the first half. I miss you all a great deal.
88 07 11
P.S. I see Bishop Bullock appointed Fr. Frank Bognanno as temporary administrator for both St. Anne’s and Holy Family. Just shows how much the Bishop trusts you. Fr. Frank lives in Des Moines! That means you can pretty much take care of yourselves, something I’ve always known. I ‘m proud of you.