Monday, July 30, 2018

The Bread of Life Discourse (17Th Sunday OT Cycle B)

    Today is a very special Sunday. If you are a liturgy geek like myself you will know that in the church we use a three year cycle for the Sunday readings. Meaning every 3 years we repeat the same Sunday readings; so today’s readings we have not heard since 2014 and we will not hear them again until the year 2021. Now the reason why today is special is because today’s Gospel reading is the beginning of what is known as the Bread of Life discourse, and I say the beginning because for the next 6 Sundays we will read the whole story.
   Now, if you are a bible geek like myself, you will know that the gospel reading for today comes from the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John.  And if you are a theology geek like myself you will also know that for Catholics this section of the new testament is one of the most important sections in the whole of the bible. Why? Because this is the point in Jesus ministry in which he begins teaching His disciples about the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith. How important are these readings? Think about it, without faith in what Jesus tells us in these readings, that He is the bread of life who came down from heaven and that we need to eat His body and drink His blood in order to have eternal life, everything we do at mass, every single day and especially on Sundays, would have no meaning. In fact if Jesus were not present in the Eucharist, everything we do at mass could be considered idolatry.
     What Jesus begins teaching us today will culminate not 6 weeks from now but on the day of the Last Supper or Holy Thursday, the day in which for the first time, he gives himself to us in the forms of bread and wine, and gives His disciples to power to transform this bread and wine into His divine body and blood. He himself becomes the bread that comes down from heaven. 
  Now, when we look at today’s gospel again, we will notice that the Lord Jesus begins his catechesis on the Eucharist not with deep philosophical or theological ideas but with the one very common, very human act. The one act who gives life to the human race, eating and drinking. Of course the Lord could have used some other human act to remain with us. Before the first Jewish temple was destroyed by the Babylonians the Bible states that the presence of God resided in the temple as a form of permanent cloud in the Holy of Holies.
   Why would God select the form of bread and wine to remain with us “until the end of times”? Because he knows very well human hunger. physical hunger as well as spiritual hunger. The physical hunger can be taken care of by the substance of the bread and wine, but our spiritual hunger can not be satiated by material things. Some people try to do this by filling their lives with “stuff”. Some use money, some use sex, some use power, others use alcohol, or pills or illegal drugs, but what they are really doing is covering over the emptiness the carry in their spirit.
  But the only thing which can satiate this hunger is God himself, who created us with this hunger for him, a hunger which will not leave us until we fill our spirit with him. This is why we receive communion, to allow God to become part of who we are. To become part of our cells and our DNA and to allow him into our hearts to fill the emptiness we all carry inside..
  Like I said, today is just the first part of the Bread of Life discourse, in the next 5 weeks we will see how Jesus slowly moves from feeding 5 thousand people with 5 loaves of bread, to giving his body to be eaten and his blood to be drunk by the whole world.
  If you are a Catholic geek like myself, you will realize during this next few weeks that there is no life without partaking of the Eucharist, that we were created for this moment and that we will never be closer to the Lord than when we quietly kneel on our, pews after communion. GBYMBAS