August 5, 2018

In our Gospel reading last week, we reflected on the miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves. Today, and for the next three Sundays, we will hear Jesus unpack the meaning of this miracle. We will hear Jesus say that he is the bread of life, and that whoever comes to him will never hunger; whoever believes in him will never thirst.

We will hear objections raised to this revelation. But Jesus will respond that whoever believes has eternal life, and that whoever eats this bread will live forever. He says that the bread he will give is his flesh for the life of the world.

More objections will be raised: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” But Jesus will persist: “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 remains in me and I in him…Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Finally, on August 26th, we will hear Jesus’ followers complain, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” But Jesus says that the words he has spoken are Spirit and life. As a result of their struggle with these words, John tells us that many of his disciples returned to their former way of life “and no longer accompanied him.” The ones who do stay with him are the Twelve. Peter speaks for them when he says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

This extended reflection on Jesus as the Bread of Life can help to renew us in that belief that Jesus is the Holy One of God and that he is the center of our nourishment, the source of our life.

Our gathering as a community of faith on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day of the Resurrection, is the privileged time God has set aside for us to encounter Him in the most profound way. It is for this reason that we Catholics are obliged to participate in Sunday Mass. God has given us the gift of His Son and invited us to encounter him in bread and wine – his Body and Blood. What a privilege!

Giving such priority to the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is not easy in our busy lives. There are so many things, obligations, important demands on our schedules, which can sometimes relegate Sunday Mass to the bottom of the list of priorities.

This month’s extended reflection on Jesus as the Bread of Life can provide an opportunity for all of us to re-commit ourselves to making the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist THE weekend priority. We have the opportunity this month to re-orient our thinking about the weekend, and instead of trying to fit Sunday Mass into our busy schedules, perhaps we can begin with Sunday Mass and then shape our schedules around this most important and highest priority.

What we know is that if we do that, Jesus will never disappoint us. Let us come to him, who says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger; whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni