The words for this week are eat and bread the first active, the latter passive.

 

Pope John-Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginia Mariae, does not cite any specific Scripture. The following section fits no special readings. The rhythm of life, mentioned below does rely on the bread of life.

 

The concluding short prayer

 

35.       In current practice, the Trinitarian doxology is followed by a brief concluding prayer which varies according to local custom. Without in any way diminishing the value of such invocations, it is worthwhile to note that the contemplation of the mysteries could better express their full spiritual fruitfulness if an effort were made to conclude each mystery with a prayer for the fruits specific to that particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life. One fine liturgical prayer suggests as much, inviting us to pray that, by meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, we may come to “imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.”[1]

 

Such a final prayer could take on a legitimate variety of forms, as indeed it already does. In this way the Rosary can be better adapted to different spiritual traditions and different Christian communities. It is to be hoped, then, that appropriate formulas will be widely circulated, after due pastoral discernment and possibly after experimental use in centers and shrines particularly devoted to the Rosary, so that the People of God may benefit from an abundance of authentic spiritual riches and find nourishment for their personal contemplation.

 

I am unaware of any such experimental use now happening. One source of apparitions that I follow on the Internet is located at Missionary Servants of Holy Love, 37137 Butternut Ridge Rd., Elyria, OH 44035http://www.holylove.org. Missionary Servants of Holy Love is an ecumenical lay apostolate committed to living and propagating the Holy Love messages. These messages, which support the two great commandments--love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself--are given by means of private revelation to Our Lady's messenger. Missionary Servants of Holy Love gather to pray the rosary for world peace, for an end to abortion, and that hearts open to the Blessed Mother's message of Holy Love.

 

The overview for all of the liturgical readings is a journey to Jerusalem, Jerusalem a symbol for the soul. The journey is to one’s inner soul. The activity in that soul is both active and passive.

 

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15

 

verse 3                       … as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!

 

verse 4           Then the LORD said to Moses,

                                    “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.

 

verse 12         Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,

                                    and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,

 

The Prophet Micah portrays God taking his people to court. God makes his case against his people by reciting all he has done for them, including verse 12 above.[2]

 

verse 13         In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.

 

In Numbers 11, after eating the quail the Israelites became sick. Food is used not only to reward, but also to punish the Israelites.[3]

 

verse 15         Moses told them,

                                    “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

 

The idea is not to complain about good fortune, in other words, to accept good fortune cheerfully.

 

Psalm 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

 

Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P. links Psalm 78 with Exodus. “One can see, then, that the major question was not so much were the Egyptians struck by plagues in punishment for their sins, bur rather how the Israelites would be continually punished if they sinned.”[4]

 

The Prophet Micah 3:10 uses Psalm 78:23-29 as an historical psalm “referring to God pouring down blessings for his people.”[5] Psalm 78 dates “from very early in the divided monarchy.”[6]

 

The antiphon is

 

verse 24b       The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

 

verse 25         Man ate the bread of angels,

                                    food he sent them in abundance.

verse 54         And he brought them to his holy land,

                                    to the mountains his right hand had won.

 

A scholar translates verse 54 as follows: “He brought them to his holy land, the mountain his right hand had won.”[7]

 

Ephesians 4:17, 20-24

 

verse 17                     …in the futility of their minds

 

For minds, Saint Jerome uses sensus. The Lectionary seems to disparage the intellectual life. The Latin dictionary offers perception, observation, the power of perceiving, feeling, consciousness, a sense, feeling, consciousness, emotion, sense, feeling, a manner of thinking, the sense, signification of a word, sentence, discourse, meaning.[8] I would have translated sensus with understanding or misunderstanding or even senses. Why not assume that the senses block the mind, rather than that the mind is a hindrance to Faith.

 

verse 21                     …as truth is in Jesus

 

The Lectionary omits verse 26 that refers to a south wind, africum. The African American Bible makes nothing of this use of africum.[9]

 

Matthew 4:4b

 

 

verse 4:4b      One does not live on bread alone, but by every

                        word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

 

John 6:24-35

 

The grammarians contribute understanding to this passage.

 

verse 25b                   “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

 

For when, the Greek carries the sense of for how long. Saint Jerome uses quando.

 

verse 26c                   you are looking for me not because you saw signs

 

Jesus is upbraiding the crowd for being dim-witted. He works a miracle and they are only concerned with having their bellies full. The grammarian points out that the crowds did not see the signs, in the sense of recognize the signs.

 

verse 26d                   but because you ate the loaves and were filled.

 

The grammarian points out that the Greek for filled originally referred to feeding animals, for example with hay.

 

verse 27d       …the Father, God, has set his seal.”

 

The Latin uses a derivative for the word sign. In other words, Jesus, himself, is a sign from the Father.

 

This section of John is part of the tract involving the multiplication of loaves. The manna that came from heaven resisted fire that destroyed Egyptian food. Manna offered “salvific creation.”[10]

 

verse 28         So they said to him,

                                    “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

 

The grammarian points out that do is in the sense of do habitually.

 

verse 30         So they said to him,

                                    “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?

 

John portrays Jesus as a frustrated teacher.

 

verse 32c-d                it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;

                                    my Father gives you the true bread from heaven

 

verse 33         For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven

                                    and gives life to the world.”

 

The world is not bad, worldliness is not bad, but does need to be infused with the bread of life.

 

verse 34         So they said to him,

                                    “Sir, give us this bread always.”

verse 35         Jesus said to them,

                                    “I am the bread of life

                                    whoever comes to me will never hunger,

                                    and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

 

The Greek for never carries an emotional overtone, that the Evangelists use to express what others say, but do not use for their own narrative.[11]

 

To review: the Exodus is about fleeing from sin, living on manna from heaven, without complaining; Psalm 78 recounts in song what happened during the Exodus, Ephesians tells Christians how to live, not by bread alone, but with an interior life expressing itself in good behavior. John is about reading signs. Jesus is concerned that the crowd recognize what he is doing and who he is. As I watch the science channel on television and marvel at how old the universe is and at the intricacy of how material things fit together, I see this science as like the signs Jesus worked. The existence and presence of God seems all about, yet in his majestic goodness, God does not force himself, barely calls attention to himself without some Faithful effort. Eating the bread of life in Holy Communion begets or ought to beget an inward personal effect resulting in an outward missionary effort, especially via prayer, to spread the Good News.

 

 

For an overview of sources used see the Appendix file.



[1]… concede, quaesumus, ut haec mysteria sacratissimo beatae Mariae Virginia Rosario recolentes, et imitemur quod continent, et quod promittunt assequamur.” Missale Romanum 1960, in festo B.M. Virginia a Rosario.

 

[2] Joyce Rilett Wood, “Speech and Action in Micah’s Prophecy,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (October 2000), 658.

 

[3] Brian Britt, “Prophetic Concealment in a Biblical Type Scent,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 1 (January 2002), 47.

 

[4] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., The Spirituality of the Psalms (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8146-2599, 47

 

[5] Sue Gillingham, “From Liturgy to Prophecy: The Use of Psalmody in Second Temple Judaism,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 3 (July 2002) 476.

 

[6] J.J.M. Roberts, “The Enthronement of Yhwh and David: The Abiding Theological Significance of the Kingship Language of the Psalms," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 4 (October 2002) 677.

 

[7] Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah and Its Cosmogonic Language,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 1993 ), 4.

 

[8] Cassell’s Latin Dictionary: Latin-English and English-Latin revised by J. R. V. Marchant, M.A. and Joseph F. Charles, B.A. (New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1952) 515.

 

[9] General Editor, The Reverend Cain Hope Felder, Ph.D., The Original African Heritage Study Bible: King James Version (Nashville: The James C. Winston Publishing Company, 1993)

 

[10] Douglas K. Clark, “Signs in Wisdom and John," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 2 (April 1983) 203.

 

[11] Maximilian Zerwick, S.J., English Edition adapted from the Fourth Latin Edition by Joseph Smith, S.J., Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblico—114—Biblical Greek (Roma: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1994) 149-150.