the Bread of Life. This long chapter of 69 verses is the basis for much of what we believe about the Eucharist. I would suggest reading the entire chapter and letting it speak to you. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.
Food that Perishes
Gospel takes place the day after the events were heard about last
Sunday. Last Sunday we heard about the multiplication of loaves. In
today’s Gospel the people who had been fed search for Jesus. They really
don’t want Him. They want free food. The heart of apostasy,
explains, Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS, is that the real God is replaced by an
illusion concocted by people to suit themselves. They have virtually
become gods in themselves before whom the real God must authenticate
Himself to win their allegiance. God, as it were, must submit to a
miracle test to meet popular expectations. Jesus confronts their
unbelief step by step.
So we come before the Lord this and every Sunday, or perhaps for some of
us, every day, and we say to the Lord, “Feed me.” But, Fr. Joseph
Pellegrino asks us, do we really want to be fed?
Do we believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life more than anything else
that we could aspire to experience or possess? Fr. Richard Lifrak, SSCC
tells us that this Gospel clearly teaches that our houses, our cars,
our jobs, our land, our investments, our positions of power, in fact,
even our children are much less a source of life than Jesus is.
Jesus uses this Gospel event as an opportunity to speak about the food
that really matters, the Bread of Life that God provides.
The Bread of Life
is important to note that, though Jesus identifies himself as "the
bread of life" (v. 35), he is not yet speaking about the sacramental
Eucharist. The emphasis in this segment of the Bread of Life Discourse
is placed on the faith-acceptance of the teaching of Jesus. It is for
this reason that Jesus states that he is the bread of life for the one
who "comes" to him and "believes" in him (v. 35). There is no reference
yet to eating or drinking. That will come later.
If we come to Jesus, we will never hunger and thirst for anything else. He is the Bread of Life. That is Jesus' identity,
as Fr. Phil Bloom explains. To put the matter another way, we are
being challenged by Jesus to avoid a magical or mechanical
understanding of the power of this supreme sacrament. In John's Gospel,
water becomes wine and wine becomes blood and blood and water both
eventually flow out of the pierced side of Jesus. Fr. Ron Rolheiser
says that happens too in the Eucharist and it happens in our lives. The task is to hold them both in our hands, as happens at Eucharist, and then offer them up to God.
It does not nourish us spiritually simply by the action of receiving it. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. adds that there must be a firm intention to change one’s life
in a way that is in harmony with this supreme Sacrament of Jesus'
giving of himself for us. It is very important to understand this point
because it reminds us that only a believing reception of the Body and
Blood of Jesus will bring us true life.
Do We Want His Bread?
day, the world over, the Holy Mass is offered countless times and in
varied places. In many places this awesome event is greeted with
indifference. So many empty pews bespeak a lack of faith that God is
truly present in the world in each Mass. Father Cusick bemoans the fact
that many people are indifferent to Christ today just as they were when he walked the earth and shared our lives almost two thousand years ago.
But the Eucharist, the Mass, is an extraordinary thing. It may appear so
simple and so routine at times. But, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us,
it contains everything there is
because it contains the Lord Jesus himself in the most accessible way
of all. If you are distracted from such thoughts on Sunday, let it be.
Fr. John Foley, S. J. says maybe something is being born that is so
much bigger than you that all you can do is take it in. He says be
distracted this Sunday and let something lovely be born.
So, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino asks, what makes a person a member of a parish? What makes a person a Christian, a Catholic?
Does baptism do it? Perhaps theologically it does. But if the person
does not reaffirm his or her faith with his or her life, then baptism is
an act lost in the forgotten past. Theologically something took place,
but it's a life that no longer exists due to the person’s refusal to
live this life.
The Sign of Peace at Mass
Phil Bloom also uses this Sunday as an opportunity to address the
'Sign of Peace' at Mass. He says there has been a misunderstanding.
We've gotten the idea that we create community. But no, it is Jesus who
creates community. He does it by making us part of His people. We
express community by affection, care, support - and above all, by
forgiveness and reconciliation. The Sign of Peace expresses our desire
to allow God to make us into a community. We cannot do it on our own
He explains then that the sign of peace should be a simple, reverent gesture:
"The peace of Christ be with you." Or, "the peace of Christ." Or
simply, "Peace." Then offer a handshake - or a kiss if you are on more
intimate terms. The Sign of Peace is not a time for chatter. Some guys
act like they are running for mayor. They want to shake every hand in
the church! The Sign of Peace is not a conversation starter. It is a
symbolic gesture to prepare our hearts for Communion. It is possible to
be friendly, but also reverent. Then focus on the Lord as we sing,
"Lamb of God."
Partisanship, Family Values & Chic-Fil-A
weeks ago, we told you about the statements made by the CEO of
Chic-Fil-A stand on biblical & family values. He said, "We operate
as a family business. We want to do anything we possibly can to
strengthen families." Protests from the supporters of gender-free
marriages -- including Chicago's mayor -- clamored for the expulsion of
the franchise from their cities for espousing contrarian values.
Chicago's Cardinal George offered his response to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on what true “Chicago values” really are. Social media fanned a call for this past Wednesday to be Chic-Fil-A Appreciation Day. And America responded with long lines at Chick-fil-A's across the country fueling unprecedented sales for the company.
And then we bring you the staggering story of a heroic woman who saved
the lives of babies abandoned at roadsides. Lou Xiaoying, now 88 and
suffering from kidney failure, found and raised more than 30 abandoned Chinese babies
from the streets of China where she managed to make a living by
recycling rubbish. Talk about true commitment to family values.
Complaints that Washington-is-broken often go hand-in-hand with laments about “partisanship” in politics. So what is the Church's role in partisanship?
George Weigel explains. He points to the present, sad condition of
much of Europe, where a breakdown of (Christian) democratic culture
seems to be leading inexorably to a breakdown of democratic politics
and the substitution of government by technocratic elites (currently
being previewed in Italy). He said it should be a cautionary tale for
Hell, Eternal Life. & Freedom
Msgr. Charles Pope laments how we haven’t done a very good job in setting forth the doctrine of Eternal Life.
For most people the concept seems a rather flat one, namely, that we
shall live for ever and ever and ever. It is reduced to a rather
egocentric notion of a place where I will be happy. But most moderns in
their description never get around to mentioning God. This is sad for
the heart of heaven is to be with God!
Which brings us to the concept of Hell. If God is Love, why is there
Hell? And why is it eternal? In a word, the good monsighnor explains, there is Hell because of respect. God has made us free and respects that freedom. Our freedom is absolutely necessary if we are to love.
And for good measure we thought we should share this light-hearted story by Cheryl Dickow she calls "Garbage Cans and Purgatory."
Prayer, Cain, NCBs & GCMs
great saints and masters of the mystical life in the Catholic
tradition often speak of the three ages of the spiritual life. Dr.
Taylor Marshall broket this down in three stages that correspond to the
three areas of Solomon's Temple: 1) Purgative (outer court); 2)
Illuminative (holy place); 3) Unitive (holy of holies). His article "Three Ages of the Interior Life in Relation to the Jewish Temple" is recommended reading.
Paul Dion, STL reflects on "The Mark of Cain"
and how for many it can be the Mark of contradiction. The Mark that
indicates that God still loves you and still is punishing you every day
of your life. The Mark turns out to be a burden and a relief at the
same time. It signals that here is someone who is accompanied by God at
every step of the way.
And here's one filled with acronyms you may or not be familiar with.
Yes, the Church is full of NCBs (Nice Catholic Boys). Not so full as she
might be, unfortunately, but they are there. And yes, they are nice,
and they are Catholic, but they are boys. What the NCGs (Nice Catholic
Girls) are waiting for is for these NCB’s to stand up and turn into GCMs. (That’s Good Catholic Men.) Interesting and insightful.
Olympic Games is an exciting time for the world. Countless people from
all across the globe are rooting for their nation’s respective teams
and glued to their TV sets. But beside the spotlight on athletic
ability, a focus on faith has been present in London.
For athletes gathering in London, a priest is not a good luck charm
but a friendly presence. The world of sport is fertile ground for
evangelization, because it is a metaphor of existence itself.
In fact you will see many athletes make the Sign of the Cross before
beginning their events. In general, they don't do it for good luck but
as a testimony of their faith, and this becomes a public witness. So it
is acceptable. The Diocese of Westminster recently held a Mass at the
start of the games with a particular focus on unity among nations. The
diocese has also created a special ministry, "More than Gold," that
serves as a welcome to the families of participating athletes who want
to see their sons and daughters, but cannot pay for a hotel.
Athletes have also spoken in various interviews, noting how faith has transformed their lives. U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin,
who won her first gold medal Monday in the 100 meter backstroke, spoke
in an interview with belief.net on how faith has helped her achieve
her goals. Former Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson
talks about God and her determination to do her best as she travels
down whatever road God puts her on next. The athletes in this year’s
Olympics should keep their examples and wisdom in mind. And amny of them
do. Tom Hoopes put together this list of Catholic Olympians and other Catholics of note participating in London this summer.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Is the Mass a Banquet or a Sacrifice?
FEATURED BLOG: Hell has to be, because God respects us
PASTORAL HISPANA: ¡Señor, danos siempre de ese pan!
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