Memory of the Mother of the Lord

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 8, 14-21

The disciples had forgotten to take any bread and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

Then he gave them this warning, 'Keep your eyes open; look out for the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.'

And they said to one another, 'It is because we have no bread.'

And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not understand, still not realise? Are your minds closed?

Have you eyes and do not see, ears and do not hear? Or do you not remember?

When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?' They answered, 'Twelve.'

'And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?' And they answered, 'Seven.'

Then he said to them, 'Do you still not realise?'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The evangelist is narrating one of the many crossings of the lake that Jesus made with his disciples. But this time -- as if to focus attention on Jesus, the true bread of life – he notes that the disciples had forgotten to take bread enough for all: “They had only one loaf with them in the boat.” This bread, Mark seems to say, is Jesus. But when we are caught up in ourselves, and in our own discussions and complaints, we do not realize this, because we are much more interested in something else. And the evangelist mentions a discussion that arose between them as to who was to blame for the oversight. But Jesus intervened on the matter and used it for a new teaching. They think that Jesus wants to intervene in their internal disputes, as if Jesus were some sort of moderator of their ridiculous arguments. The Master does not descend to their level: in fact he had called them so that they may not remain prisoners of their small horizons or their foolish disputes, but rather that they may be involved in his dream of changing the world and shown a horizon of compassion for the crowds that are weary and scattered. He rebuked them, “Why are you talking about having no bread?” And the disciples probably look a bit surprised and amazed as if he were delirious, as we often do when we face the extraordinary words of the Gospel. In fact, they had not yet understood: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear?” Jesus unites in a direct way eyes, ears and heart. But the heart is the source of both sight and hearing. For if the heart is hardened, we cannot see or hear. We need to have an open heart, a heart not full of itself, not poisoned by pride and self-sufficiency, in order to understand what is happening in the Gospel. We need also to “remember” the works and miracles of God to be able to understand the presence of Jesus, who is the bread of eternal life. The disciples had the true bread with them but did not realize it. This was true not only as a symbol but in a very real way. Jesus reminds them of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread he had just performed. Jesus satiates both the body and the heart. This is the meaning of the Eucharistic celebration, but also the meaning of listening to the Gospel as we do every day. We need to remember what Jesus said, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4: 4).