Fr Vincent's reflections on the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021
Today we read the second passage of St. John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, the “Bread of Life” chapter. (There are three more passages/Sundays to complete this chapter and teaching.) The crowd has made the grand effort to follow Jesus across the Sea of Galilee, but Jesus knows they expect him to take care of their earthly needs. However, Jesus wants them to focus on their spiritual self and the gift He offers them: his divine life! You and I must rise above our earthly wants as well if we seek Jesus for the correct reason, to make Jesus an essential part of our lives now so as to live with him forever in Heaven.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2021
Read the text:
18th Sunday – Ordinary Time (August 1, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
R/. And with your spirit.
On this 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us pray:
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.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 6:24-35.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“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.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
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.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
We continue with St. John’s Gospel this weekend, and the Sixth Chapter, the “Bread of Life” chapter. At the conclusion of today’s passage, Jesus identifies himself as the Bread of Life. Let’s back up a bit. Last weekend we read about the feeding of the 5000, and how they wanted to make Jesus king. They thought Jesus would take care of their needs, and they would never need to work again! Today, Jesus confronts the crowd’s earth-bound perspective and tries to get them to think about something greater: eternal life! However, they have trouble taking that next step of faith.
Even though you and I can say that we know better than the crowd who followed Jesus back then, and that we believe Jesus is the Son of God and He is the Bread of Life, we are still challenged to reflect on how much this belief is integral to our faith and our life in relationship to God. You see, sometimes what we believe remains merely an idea in the mind and does not become an attitude of the heart. The crowd following Jesus could not see beyond their personal wants. And we, too, can be so attached to our wants, that we do not change our life even though we claim to know the truth of Jesus Christ.
To believe and not just know that Jesus is the Bread of Life would mean that this truth influences all the decisions of my life. Questions to ask ourselves:
- If I believe that Jesus is my only way to eternal life in Heaven, do I ever deny Him by thought, word, or deed?
- Similarly, do I ever place other people, activities, or things ahead of Jesus as priorities in my life, allowing them to influence my decisions more than Jesus does?
- If Jesus is my first priority, do I adjust my schedule to be sure that prayer and spiritual union with Jesus supersede all other activities, even to the point of cancelling activities that curtail my spiritual life?
- Because Sunday worship at Mass is the minimal obligation for my life of faith, is it the first thing I plan to do each weekend before making any other plans?
There are many more questions which we can ask about the impact of faith in Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life. But these will help us to identify whether or not the truth of Jesus is something that merely resides in our knowledge or if it really influences our heart. Jesus was trying to build the crowd’s faith-life by challenging them. He is doing the same for us today. We cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied if Jesus is just in our head and not in our heart!
What would be the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, happens this year to be August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, so that passage from John’s Gospel will not be read. But I encourage you to read it for yourself: John 6:41-51. The crowd has decided they know who Jesus is. Jesus is still trying to get them to see his divine origin. So, again, you and I are challenged to get past our preconceptions of life to experience God’s divine presence in our world and in our lives, if we hope to enter Heaven one day.
For the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, John 6:51-58, Jesus speaks directly: “the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.” And: “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” We see that Jesus is adamant that this is the only way to eternal life, and belief in the truth of the divine gift is essential to having faith in Jesus. We must be as adamant with ourselves that this is so essential to my faith that nothing comes between me and my need to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass every week.
John 6:60-69, the Gospel for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, records the sad truth that because Jesus made belief in the Real Presence an absolute requirement of Faith, many of his followers decide to leave Jesus. They found his teaching too hard to accept; they chose life without Jesus. Harder still is the fact that Jesus allowed them to leave; they proved unfit to be his disciples! Jesus is even ready to let the Twelve leave if they cannot accept this absolute truth of Faith. Peter speaks for them, and I hope he speaks for us: “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.” While we can say those words, possibly, they will only mean something if we live them by our choices to put Jesus and the gift of His Body and Blood first in our lives.
As I mentioned last week, this is my final Sunday video, as I leave this week for a two month Spanish Language Immersion Sabbatical. Those who subscribe to this weekly Youtube video will receive a notification when we start up again in October, with, we hope, a new format.
And now, the final blessing.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
May the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.