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19th Sunday of the Year   

19th Sunday of the Year

 

Dear friends in Christ,

In John’s Gospel, the miraculous deeds of Jesus were not called miracles but signs, and this for a reason. The problem was that quite often people saw the signs but didn’t understand what they were truly meant.

Two Sundays ago we heard the story of Jesus who multiplied five loaves to feed five thousand men. For that, the crowds “were going to come and carry Jesus off to make him king.” Seeing that they missed the point, Jesus withdrew to the mountain alone. Later, when the crowds found Jesus again, he simply told them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus drew lessons about life from the miraculous feeding and prepared the crowds for a deeper reality, that is, God provides for the poor and the hungry with a different kind of food, the food that gives life eternal. Here, Jesus meant the Eucharist and said, “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Today’s Gospel reading opens with the Jews complaining to each other when they heard Jesus describe himself as “the living bread that comes down from heaven.” Certainly, the Jews were all scandalized that Jesus could make such claims of himself. They failed to understand the sign. St. Augustine wrote: “God is all to thee: if thou be hungry, he is bread; if thirsty, he is water; if darkness, he is light; if naked, he is a robe of immortality.”

Someone said, “The Eucharist is the Church at her best.” Like the manna that sustained the Israelites in the desert on their way to the Promised Land, so the Church, the community of believers, day and night, is being sustained by the Bread of Life, Christ, the New Manna.

 

Fr. Joe