Reflection: Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – 1K.19:4-8; Ps.33; 2nd Reading – Eph.4:30-5:2; Gospel – Jn.6:41-51]

DRAWN BY THE FATHER

The Gospels often speak about Jesus and his interactions with the people around him. Often, we hear of the Jews’ difficulty to accept Jesus for what He truly is and how adamant they were in knowing the (Old Testament) Law but fail to see how Jesus is bringing about this transition to the New Testament right before their very eyes.

Now the Jews in today’s Gospel certainly know the “historical Jesus”: they know Him as the son of Joseph and Mary and acclaim to know his parents and therefore they also know Him – that seemed enough for them. What they knew about Jesus was all true, but they did not take that further step and so they struggled to understand and accept what Jesus was saying, thus leading them towards the mistake of complaining “to each other” and “to themselves”. It is intriguing how they were not ready to talk to Jesus directly for in doing so they might have created a relationship with Him which would have led them to a better understanding. And by choosing to complain “to each other”, they were never going to obtain a satisfactory explanation to the questions they were discussing because none of them doing the “discussing” could provide an adequate answer! Their confusion eventually led them to a stalemate situation where they could never understand. So Jesus commanded them to stop complaining to each other about Him (since they were not prepared to ask Jesus directly) and tried to explain to them why He was saying that He is the “bread of life”. Jesus was saying they can never understand who He really was if they did not understand what was written about Him.  For to do so, they would have to be open to the Father who, in turn, draws them to Jesus as the one whom the Father has sent. To be open to the Father meant that they had to accept Jesus for who He really is, the one sent by the Father Himself and accept Jesus as the one about whom the Old Testament spoke constantly. And if they still struggled to understand because they were not ready to create a relationship with Him, they should, according to Jesus’ own observations, consider Him as “bread” to be eaten through which they can obtain sustenance. In Semitic culture, the term “bread” does not simply mean actual bread, but it also means food in general. Jesus made Himself food so that He could sustain those who were ready to “eat” Him, figuratively speaking, to be sustained by His presence in their lives.  “Food” through which those who believe become truly one with Christ – hence the Eucharist!

How often do we, like the Jews, find ourselves asking questions about Jesus, God or the Bible… questions (and sometimes complaints) which we can never answer, and so we end up more confused than when we started? Today Jesus is inviting us to go to Him, to ask Him and to wait for an answer from Him, the answer that He wants to give us. He is inviting us to believe in Him and should we have difficulty, then He is also inviting us to look at Him as spiritual food that can give us sustenance. Accepting Jesus as our food (the Eucharist) will give us the strength to believe.

Lord, we do not know how to create a true relationship with You and so we find it hard to understand what You want to say to us in our daily lives. Grant us the humility to ask You when we are struggling to understand; the knowledge to accept You as the one sent by the Father; and the light to see You as our spiritual food that gives us sustenance now and for evermore! Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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