Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Last Sunday we began five weeks of Gospels from the sixth chapter of John’s gospel. Last week we heard about the multiplication of loaves, today the people who had been fed search for Jesus, however –let us be honest- they really don’t want Him, they want free food, and Jesus, the perfect Shepherd, the great Teacher uses this as an opportunity to teach something, to speak about the food that really matters, the Bread of Life that God provides. Sunday after Sunday we come to the parish and we say to the Lord, “Hey, feed me!”  But do we really want to be fed? Do we really want to get a spiritual life? What we seek when come to the parish? Entertainment? Joy? Peace of mind? Do we look only for material favors, or only that God will solve our economic concerns?

It is important that we understand that life offers us the Eucharist is a material life, or physical, is eternal life, I mean, Sunday after Sunday we eat the Bread of Life and we die from cancer, heart attacks, accidents, etc. The Life offered is the Life of Christ. The Bread Jesus gives helps us grow stronger spiritually and more powerful in our in our struggle to live as Christians in the midst of a world that does not want to accept God.

My brother, my sister: receiving the Eucharist is a real commitment, I mean, our Catholic faith is not a sometimes-affair, its not a once-a-week-happening, indeed the very word religion comes from the Latin work ligare which means to be bound.  So, our faith is who we are, people bound to Christ. There is a dark part of us that wants to believe that we can put our faith in a corner of our lives, it is the part of us that goes to Church on Sundays but thinks it is alright to get drunk on Fridays…or whatever sin. Our Lord says in today’s Gospel that He is the Bread of Life. If we push aside our commitment to the new Life of the Lord, then we are pushing Jesus aside.

…Providentially not everything in us is bad or negative; there is another part full of light. This is the part that truly wants to grow in the friendship with our Lord every day until we die. It is the part that always wants more of Him. It is the part that wants to wake up in His Presence, go about our daily routine in His Presence, and sleep in His Presence. “A Christian is not his own master. His time is God’s,” St. Ignatius wrote shortly before he died. There is a part of us that cries out with the people in today’s Gospel, Lord, give us this bread always.

Each one of us is dust and grace, light and darkness, sin and grace. There will always be within us a war between good and evil. God knows our inner battles, and He struggles with us. We must be sure that He will never allow something that is above our strength.

All this must lead us to a deeper understanding that there is nothing we can gain in life that has value except that which comes from Jesus and returns to Him… Come to mind the beautiful words of another great saint: God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you[1]...

In the coming weeks we will continue listening to the discourse on the Bread of Life, the questions for our time of prayer with the Lord are very simple: Do I really want to be fed by Jesus? Am I looking forward to the things of God? Am I really committed to my faith and the teachings of the Church?

Love for the Church is important. The Church is like us: saint and sinner, clean and dirty, weak and strong, but is the Bride of Christ, she was born from the open side of the Lord, and this is the main reason to love with all our strength.

May the Virgin Mother of God help us, protect us and teach us to value and want to receive the Eucharist with all the strength of our soul. Amen ■

[1] Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in teConfessions I, I. 

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris