Friday, August 7, 2015

The Bread of Life




READINGS:


First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8

Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying:
“This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat.
Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake
and a jug of water.
After he ate and drank, he lay down again,
but the angel of the LORD came back a second time,
touched him, and ordered,
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
He got up, ate, and drank;
then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.


Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Glorify the LORD with me,
Let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
And delivered me from all my fears.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.
And your faces may not blush with shame.
When the afflicted man called out, the LORD heard,
And from all his distress he saved him.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.


Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30-5:2

Brothers and sisters:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. 
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice. 
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.

GOSPEL :John 6:41-51

The people began to complain about Jesus because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ' I have come down from heaven'?"

Jesus answered them, "Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw them; and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.

"I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."


The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.


GOSPEL REFLECTION: 19th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)

9th August 2015
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines 


REFLECTION:
We now continue our reflection on the 'Bread of Life Discourse' of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John. For the Jews, to comprehend fully the teaching of our Lord about himself being the Bread of Life was quite a challenge. It was not easy for the people to accept Jesus as God. And it was equally not easy for them to comprehend Jesus as the bread that came down from heaven. That explains their reaction when once again Jesus declared "I am the Bread of Life!" What was amusing was the fact that prior to this incident, the people seemed impressed when Jesus multiplied the bread and they were fed.In fact, they sought Jesus. Jesus was right when he said in the Gospel of last Sunday, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves." And in today's Gospel text, the people complained and murmured with each other, "Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" The people's grumbling about Jesus' teaching was a reminder of the reaction of the Jews toward Moses in the Old Testament. Even though God showed them compassion by sending them manna from heaven yet still they complained and grumbled simply because of their unbelief and lack of trust in God. The miracle of the manna from heaven was not enough sign for them that they may put their complete trust in a providential God. The same is true as in the case of the Jews during Jesus' time. To comprehend Jesus as someone coming down from heaven was way beyond them. They may have witnessed the sign of the multiplication of loaves but that wasn't enough for them to believe. Jesus stood his ground and in a literal meaning he identifies himself as the Bread of Life. Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." Here Jesus revealed to us the mystery of the Eucharist i.e. our Lord is truly present in the form of bread and wine. The Gospel, therefore, is an invitation for us to reflect on the beauty and the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the most blessed of all the Sacraments because it is in this Sacrament that Christ presence is offered to us in the fullness of his person - in his body. But like to the Jews of Old, up to this date, many people, unfortunately, even among Catholics have expressed doubts and or struggling in accepting Jesus as truly present in the Eucharist - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

I am reminded of a personal experience, when I was celebrating a mass three years ago, when during Communion a five year old boy approached me for communion as he extended his hands towards me. I said to the little boy , "but you have not received your First Communion yet!" To which the little boy responded , "but I want to receive Jesus now." I smiled and said to him, "I am going to give you Jesus by giving you a blessing." And he smiled back at me and said with conviction the word "Amen!" For me that was faith. Coming from a five year old boy, his faith was truly remarkable. I said to myself sometimes we need to see in the eyes of a child and to believe in the heart of a child.

If we are truly convinced that Christ is present in the Eucharist then we will receive him in the Holy Communion with love, with humility, with deep faith and with right disposition. A spiritual preparation would be a good start. A clean and a contrite heart is the best preparation. This is where the Sacrament of Reconciliation could help us prepare.

But why do we go to mass and why do we need to receive Jesus in the Eucharist? 
First, God commanded us. The third of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God is, "Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath day." - Exodus 20:8

Second, Jesus commanded us. In Luke 22:14,19 - At the Last Supper Jesus said, "This is my Body! This is my Blood! Do this in remembrance of me!"

Third, The Church commanded us. The Church teaches that we must fulfill the command of Jesus - Do this in memory of me. Receiving Jesus in The Eucharist sustains us , nourish us , give us the strength we need as we journey through life towards our ultimate destiny which is Heaven.
Being a Christian is not a private matter. We are called to be Christian together, worship together, gather together ,journey together, celebrate together which is why Sunday Mass is so important.God wants community. Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst."

I remember so vividly when the very first time I received Jesus in the Holy Communion I said to myself , 'from now on I will receive Jesus regularly in the Holy Communion. Since then I never fail to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist has become very much a part of my life. As if my life would never be complete and would be meaningless without Jesus.

Mother Teresa said "Jesus is my God, Jesus is my spouse, Jesus is my life, Jesus is my everything. Because of this, I am never afraid!"

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