Celebrating the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Father is the one who provides man with the food he needs for his life. But like pagans, we live with empty minds and are so taken up with filling our stomachs and the needs of this life that we fail to grasp the real meaning of his gifts or the incomparable worth of the bread of life who is Jesus himself. Receiving this gift we become a new creation, with “a fresh, spiritual way of thinking”.
This week's Gospel is from St. John 6:24-35.
Getting our values straight. According to St Paul, if Christ is really active in our lives (and who among us wants to claim he isn’t?), our very way of thinking will have been turned upside down; that is, it will have been put right, because sin has perverted the order of our values. Our priorities (when we vote, when we wonder if we should have more children or not, when we choose our entertainment, when we go shopping, when we’re tempted to cut corners at work, take advantage of a customer, or skip our homework, and when we make any of the countless minor decisions of every day) will not be the following -- “what’s in it for me”, “what will this do for my bank account”, “is it pleasurable” or “can I get away with it”, but rather, “how can this help me reach my real goal, eternal life”, “is this what God wants”, “does it bring me closer to God”, “will this help others”, “will it be a better witness of Christian life”.
Unrealistic? No, unless Jesus should be called “unrealistic” when he reproached people who were far needier than any of us for being more interested in today’s lunch than in the bread of life (Gospel). No, because this is the only realistic attitude: this is the way God sees things and only he sees things in all their reality. We’re the ones who need to “get real”. Did Jesus really become man and die on a cross merely so his followers could be just like everybody else?
Fruitful communions: To achieve this means taking Communion far more “seriously” than we regularly do; being quite certain that it is a food that will, gradually, transform me. No, you won’t lose weight, but you will begin to think differently about life.
In practice, it means seriously preparing yourself: before Mass, during Mass and when going to receive. Before Mass: arriving, having made some kind of real attempt during the week, to do God’s will in your life, and to open your heart to him regularly in prayer, and to people in need. During Mass: offering yourself as best you can with Christ who is offering himself for you, having an idea of what you need from him (from this Communion), telling him this. When you go to Communion: remembering who you are: this needy, weak, selfish, tempted, grieving, overworked… individual. And who the One you are about to receive is: the Jesus who gave – and gives – sight to the blind, consolation to the grieving, strength to the weak… who was tempted, and overcame temptation, for you; who invited his followers to come aside and rest with him; who gave and gives himself up for you, so that you can do it for others…
Then, after Mass, maybe we’ll be ready to do something about “the thousand inconsistencies of a ‘globalized’ world where the weakest, the most powerless and the poorest appear to have so little hope!”, aware “that it is ‘unworthy’ of a Christian community to partake of the Lord´s Supper amid division and indifference towards the poor”.
Draw near to your servants, O Lord, and answer their prayers with unceasing kindness, that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide, you may restore what you have created and keep safe what you have restored.