For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081218.cfm
Three things are happening in our Gospel this weekend. First the people “murmur against Jesus” because he was known to them, and had said that he had “come down from heaven.” Second, Jesus responds to them and identifies himself as the “one sent by the Father” and the “Bread of Life.” Third, Jesus promises “eternal life” to those who believe. Each of these things is important. Let me say a brief word about each of them.
Certainly it is difficult to see familiar people in a new way. We sometimes “lock” people into an early perception of them and refuse to see more than that. This is what happened with the people in our Gospel today. However, if we truly believe Jesus’ words, that “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me,” it behooves us to be open to the presence of God in everyone --- even those who are known and familiar to us.
As a Eucharistic people we are very familiar with Jesus as the Bread of Life. We believe that in the Eucharist we celebrate and share in Jesus’ name and memory that Jesus is really and truly present, and that he is for us the Bread of Life.
The idea of eternal life would have been foreign to the Jews of Jesus times. For the Jews of Jesus’ time (and even for many Jewish people today) people lived on through their descendents. That was why it was so important to have children. We who have grown up with the promise of eternal life would do well to take a step back every now and then, and remember and give thanks for this gracious and unmerited gift.
In our first reading today the prophet Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert and was ready for death. An angel of the Lord brought him a hearth cake and a jug of water and ordered: “Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you.” These words speak to us today and remind us why the Eucharist is so important.
Finally, in our second reading today we are reminded of the vices that need to be removed from our lives and virtues we are to exhibit as followers of Jesus.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Can you remember a time when you discovered God’s presence and/or grace in a person or place that was known and familiar to you?
- When has the Eucharist helped you when the journey seemed long and difficult?
- What vices do you need to remove from your life or conversely what virtues do you need to develop?