Learning By Watching


17th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: July 25, 2021

We learn by watching others.  Children learn by observing their parents.  We learn to be Christians by watching people who are living as Christians.  Who have you observed as a Christian that guided you in being a Christian?

We all need good models in the Christian life. In fact, it is the reason the church presents saints who can be models for us in living the Christian life.  But, first of all we learn to be a Christian by listening to and observing Jesus.  As we read the Gospels we should be carefully watching Jesus.  How he lives, how he treats others, how he speaks, and so on.

Beginning this Sunday and continuing for the next few Sundays, our Gospel reading will be from John chapter 6.  It is the Bread of Life discourse.  It is a teaching on the Eucharist.  So, the next few Sundays will be an opportunity for us to reflect on the Eucharist and the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives.

It begins with the miracle of the feeding of the crowd with the multiplication of the loaves.  This is the one miracle found in all four Gospels.  It is a vision of the Eucharist in the life of the church.  Here it begins with a large crowd searching for Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus sees them and immediately is concerned with how to feed this crowd.

Jesus is sensitive to the needs of the people.  By watching Jesus here we learn that we as disciples of Jesus need to have this same sensitivity.  As a church we need to be sensitive to the needs of people around us and in our community.  What do people need, what is the hunger that they have in their hearts?

At Vatican II it says that “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of people today should be “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties” of the followers of Christ.  What are people searching for in our world, in our community, in our parish, in our family?

This weekend, we welcome William Meehan to our parish.  He is a seminarian studying for the priesthood for our Diocese of Hamilton.  He is doing his studies in Rome, but will be coming for parish experience each summer to our parish.

Years ago someone involved in formation said that when he looks at a man discerning the priesthood, he would ask himself, “can this man learn to be a priest from the people?”  I hope that William will have lots of opportunity to be with you people and spend time with you.  That he can listen to become aware of your needs and hungers.

This is the call of the church today.  We all need to humbly listen and be sensitive to the needs of the people in our community and world.  There we will see hunger for reconciliation, for healing, for hope, for mercy, for love in the face of great loneliness.

It is our call as the church to respond to these hungers in human hearts.

We learn by watching others.  We learn to be a Christian by observing Jesus.  In the Eucharist we receive the Body of Christ.  St. Augustine used to say while pointing to the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, “become what you receive.”  As we receive the body of Christ during this Eucharist, we are called to become the body of Christ.

Jesus looked out at the crowd and was sensitive to their needs.  He had compassion for them.  He listened to their hearts.  We members of the church today need to be sensitive to the needs of others, listen to their hearts, and humbly respond to the needs we find.

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