Gospel Reflections

Feast of St Julie

John 6:1-15

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Evelyn McKenna

Published: July 12, 2016


On July 12, 1751, St. Julie Billiart, the co-foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur was born. Since her birth 265 years ago, her Congregation has spread to five continents and seventeen countries.

St. Julie lived the Gospel in very special ways and we now rejoice that her words, “How Good is the Good God” are proclaimed and lived out by her Sisters in multiple cultures, speaking a variety of languages.

Today’s Gospel recounts the Feeding of the Five Thousand, Jesus’ only miracle, except for the Resurrection, which appears in all four Gospels.

Jesus had been preaching and curing the sick when he sat down in a deserted place with his apostles. (Matthew’s Gospel describes it as a place “where they could be by themselves.”) Many people followed him, some in faith, perhaps even believing that Jesus was the Messiah. Others may have been seeking a miracle or even the chance to catch a glimpse of Jesus.

For Jesus himself, as he saw people coming, rather than viewing them as an interruption to his leisure, (“Send them away,” the words of the apostles in Matthew’s account of this same event), he welcomed them, spoke with them – and sought to meet their needs, especially the need for food. With the assistance of a young boy who offered his bread and fish, Jesus provided for the people. All ate and were satisfied, a reminder of manna in the desert, a prefiguring of the Eucharist and an image of equality and the way the world should be.

What can this story, so rich in meaning, say to us?

Jesus welcomed the “interruption” in time which could have been his own.

- How do I react to the interruptions which disturb my plans? - Do I welcome the unexpected people or events which can disrupt my days?

The young boy offered his bread and fish – so very inadequate in the light of the numbers of hungry people.

- How generously do I share my own goods, time and talents with others?
- Do I fail to respond at times, believing that my gifts are so inadequate to the needs that they are best not shared?

Jesus used the boy’s meager gift and fed five thousand people. God uses what we offer and multiplies it generously.

Saint Julie understood and lived this Gospel fully – by prayer, attentiveness, service and trust.

May we do the same!

Ah, qu’il est bon le Bon Dieu!

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