18th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 1 August 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15; Responsorial: Psalm 78; II: Ephesians 4: 17, 20-24; Gospel: John 6: 24 -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.'” [John 6:35]. These summer weeks of Ordinary Time the Holy Spirit would seek to focus our hearts upon the Eucharistic Heart of Scripture, the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. And this week we hear the clear call of Jesus to know Him, the Bread of Life. This is one of the great “I AM’s” of Holy Scripture. These statements found throughout the Old and New Testaments invite us to know God in a deeper, clearer way. Today let us explore this invitation and promise from God to receive and be nourished by Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.
There is great hunger in the world. The threat or reality of inadequate food, of physical famine, is very real in many parts of this earth. The threat of inadequate food is fueled by droughts and floods disrupting the growth of basic food and sustenance. But even greater is the hunger, the famine, found in the human soul unaware or separated from the provision of God for eternal life. The great surge of violence, fear, greed, and lusts each illustrate the intense hunger pangs of humanity for sustenance that fills, not just the stomach, or bank account but the human soul with the bread of angels.
And we read, we hear, at least in our minds, the promise of Jesus. “I AM the Bread of Life.” “Whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Yet in our churches, in our own lives, we may realize there is hunger. There is thirst. What is wrong? Is Jesus being less than honest?
Jesus is indeed and in truth The Bread of Life. The light of the Word of God in our readings brings us insights that we may know in our hearts the truth of Jesus and to be fed.
First we must look to our hunger. We humans are always seeking and hungering. And often we may consume, or even feast on…garbage. There is no fast food of faith. Christ is not going to be found in a microwave meal or an APP of an apple. We must let the Spirit of God lead us from the junk food of the so-called meals of this world to the holy altar of the Bread of Life. We must learn to hunger for the simplicity of living for God and for listening to God.
To find and receive Christ the Bread of Angels we must, like the people of Israel in our first reading LISTEN to, and LISTEN for God. In our prayer life, do we spend most of the time talking? Or do we allow God to set the table of our heart as we wait, in silence? Like the Israelites, we must allow God to lead us beyond ourselves and the noises of the world into our wilderness where we learn to hear God’s Word and bring us to His place for us, His meal that alone will satisfy.
We then realize, ever more deeply, we are called to be a people of FAITH. We follow, we seek Christ, not just with temporal feelings but with souls growing in trust of Him who beckons us to see beyond what our eyes may see, who embrace the substance of Him who may not always be felt. This is profoundly celebrated as we see the consecrated Host elevated above the altar or the Holy Blood of Jesus in the chalice. And it is also shared with each other as together we come to that holy communion offered and found in Jesus the Bread of Life. The eyes of faith are essential, as we look to the consecrated Host. The eyes of faith are essential as we see each other, all those “WHOEVERS”, Jesus said could come.
And it is as we cherish and reverence His very Real Presence in the holy meal AND in each other, we grow to be a people of PRAISE to God. It is a sad lesson we read in our first reading that the people set free from slavery to Egypt had become a gathering of grumblers and complainers. Far too often in our churches, our faith communities we hear litanies of complaints or choruses of grumblings. Problems, trials, failings are all part of the journey. But instead of being the ingredients of our meals together, we need to trust God to use them to bring us to His Presence and His provision. The people of Israel would never have had the experience of the miracle of the manna in the wilderness, without their hunger and need. And it was the need of God’s mercy and forgiveness that brought His Son to shed His blood and allow His body to be broken, to bring us eternal life. Thus it is, early in the Mass we proclaim the Gloria:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Today let us each listen for and hear God and His holy angels calling us to worship. May we come to Mass expectantly anticipating, knowing, that God is Present and that in His Real Presence, The Bread of Life, Jesus will feed us.