On this Lord’s Day, the Church’s Lectionary for Mass moves us from the regular, Sunday-to-Sunday proclamation of hearing of the Gospel according to Mark. For the next five Sunday’s we will have presented to us the majority of chapter six of the Gospel according the John – the “Bread of Life discourse.”
Following the Second Vatican Council, a Commission charged with developing the Lectionary had made the decision to use the three synoptic Gospels as a kind of signature Gospel for the Sunday ’s of a three year cycle of readings. However, since Saint Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of these Gospels, it was proving to be a challenge to find a way to stretch its use for 30-plus Sunday’s in a liturgical year. No doubt, we have concluded, guided by the Holy Spirit, the Commission decided that on the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Gospels would move to using Saint John’s Gospel for a period of five weeks.
Last Sunday you may remember, in Mark 6:30-34, Jesus invited the Apostles to go away with him for a time of prayer and rest away from the crowds. But these same crowds here of where they are going and get to the place before Jesus and the Apostles. Following this story in Mark’s Gospel is his recounting of the miracle of the loaves and fishes (the feeding of the 5000 in verses 35-44). Since John begins the sixth chapter with his recounting of the same miracle, the choice was made to supplement the Sunday cycle in Mark’s year with a five Sunday proclamation beginning with the miracle and the subsequent discourse that Jesus is the true Bread of Life!
These next Sunday’s, then, will give us a wonderful, grace-filled time to reflect and contemplate upon the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist – our Church’s most cherished Sacrament, the gift of Jesus Himself to us. I hope that you won’t miss a Sunday for in each proclamation of the Gospel on them, we are invited to be drawn deeper into the holy mystery of God’s love for us and for all.