20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2018
John 6, 51-58
Jesus said to the Jews, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Coming back after a weeklong mission trip from a village, my catechists and I were so tired, thirsty and hungry. We proceeded right away to the nearest store. Each one of us ordered a family size coke and all the biscuits available in the store. We consumed everything in a few minutes but we were still hungry and thirsty.
The words of today’s gospel are not words that pertain only to what we do at the communion table; they are not meant to apply merely to the few minutes in which we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They are more encompassing than that. They apply to every minute of everyday life.
What is it that we feed on every day? What is our diet like? What choices do we make from the tables that are spread before us? Which table do we sit down at most often?
Too often it seems people who should know better feed on the food that creates worry and anxiety, selfishness and intolerance, hatred and despair.
People look at commercials for the latest products. They read newspapers and watch the nightly round of bad news. Since they fail to apply godly understanding to what they read or see, they become somewhat embittered or depressed.
You are what you eat. If your only bread is the bread of envy and your only drink is the drink of bitterness, you become these things.
A little junk food doesn’t hurt a person. Many of us can safely consume potato chips, hot dogs and soft drinks, pizza and chocolate bars, but – if we don’t balance this all out, in the direction of fruit and vegetables, milk and eggs, water and meat, then our health will begin to fail and we will suffer afflictions that we do not need to suffer. Those afflictions that are common to us all will afflict us more severely than they do others.
Throughout the Scriptures, God’s word is compared to food – to bread and drink – because in it there is life, and through it comes a full, abundant, and rich life which is able to conquer sin and suffering, despair and death.
When we receive communion, the body and the blood of Christ are not the physical elements which we touch and handle and see. No, the body and the blood of Christ are to be found in and through those elements by our faith, and by the faithfulness of God.
We can do whatever we really want to do. But, unless we eat of the wisdom of God, we will not be happy and we will most likely not make the world a better place.
Nourish yourself from the table that the Lord has prepared. Take His word and consume it. Sing and pray and offer thanksgiving to God. Share and make melody together to the Lord and you will be satisfied.
By Fr. Cyril Ortega SVD