Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!
Join us every week for background on this Sunday’s readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.
(*Note, full readings are not pasted below as usual; I am on vacation and writing from vacation in bar harbor, Maine..on a phone vs laptop. Apologies for the messy formatting too!)
Reading 1 EX 16:2-4, 12-15
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
Today’s reading from Exodus is a precursor to more from St John in our gospel. Remember we are in chapter 6 – the bread of life discourse. Listen in the reading to the first time God answered His peoples need for food and sustenance.
Oh how they complained at having less than, at the lack of food! Even after generations in horrific slavery they forgot the evils of their time in Egypt. They say they want to go back … for the food.(?) People often wonder why God chose to become bread and wine; I think it is answered in this reading. Food is at the core of our being and at the core of our need to live. Without it, we become irrational beings, even desiring things for ourselves that are bad (like slavery). So God was very purposeful when he chose to stay with us for eternity in the form of bread and wine. He wants to be at the core of our being, at the core of our need to live, too.
“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”
Psalm 78: The Lord have them bread from Heaven.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
Beautiful verses to compliment our first reading and the story of the wandering, grumbling Israelites who seek God.
2nd Reading -Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
We are in Ephesians again, as we have been for a few weeks and will be for a few more. Today Paul speaks to the small church that is growing in Ephesus and say to them, out with the Old, in with the New. Out with your old selfish, single-minded, closed to change You and in with the new, generous, open-minded Christ centered You. A good chance to reflect today – how are we doing with this transformation in our lives right now?
“I declare and testify in the Lord
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus,
that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
John 6: 24-35
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
Today the disciples get to hear the real deal from Jesus about the bread of life. Next week they will question him and some will leave him, turning around and walking right out the door.
But today Jesus connects the dots. The conversation turns to food and signs. Jesus tells them to work for food that ensures, but they don’t understand that. They say “well, our ancestors ate food and were filled. It says so in the Torah. You say to believe in You, that God sent You. What sign can you give us that we should believe in You?”
Jesus says “well friends, you’re right. Your ancestors did get bread from heaven, but it wasn’t from Moses it was from my father. And it filled bellies but not souls, so it wasn’t eternal. Now is the time. He sent me and now I’m finally here. I AM the sign. I AM the bread of life. I AM eternal life. I AM The Way.”
The disciples want this bread! They want it always! But they don’t really get it. They have desire but not real, authentic faith. It is conditional faith. It’s a faith that says, “yes I believe! As long as I can believe in my own way.” How do we know that to be true? Because next week they bail. So many jump ship when they find out what it really means to follow Jesus Christ. He means we eat his flesh and drink his blood in the form of transformed bread and wine.
It is probably the biggest head-scratcher in history for our human, logic oriented minds. But alas, that is where the challenge of faith comes in. Do we really believe it? Can we do it? What would we have thought if in Jesus’s company? I can’t say if I would have stayed or gone. I’d like to say I’d have stayed and also said, “Lord, to whom should we go?” But I will never know.
All I know is what I can do now, which is to believe and to trust today.
but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”