2012-08-05, 18th B, Come and Believe

Homily 08-05-12
Eighteenth Sunday Ord, B
1 Ex 16:2-4,12-15;  Ps 78:3-4, 23-25, 54;  2 Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35

(Scriptures included after homily)

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading we heard the prelude to what is referred to as “The Bread of Life Discourse,” from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel (Jn 6:1-15).  That prelude was actually the fourth of John’s seven signs, or miracles, that reveal the glory and power of God working through Jesus.  It was the miracle of the multiplication of a few loaves of bread and fish that fed a huge crowd of people.

Today and for the next two weeks the story continues.  If we were to give a title for today’s segment, we might call it, ‘The Introduction.’  For just as the physical feeding of the 5,000 (men, not including women and children) set the stage for the Bread of Life Discourse, today’s Introduction leads us into the first of two critically important aspects of that discourse.

The first aspect is Belief or Faith in Jesus, which we arrive at through His WORD.

And the second aspect is Communion with God and one another, which we arrive at through His Body, the EUCHARIST.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of Life, whoever Comes to me will never hunger and whoever Believes in me will never thirst.”  Next week we’ll hear Him say, “I am the bread of Life.”  “Whoever Eats this bread will live forever.”  You see, we find in Jesus’ Bread of Life description of Himself, the very foundation of our Mass – in its Liturgies of the Word and the Eucharist.  And then we realize that the whole Mass is – The Bread of Life, it is Jesus.

Now, after that crowd had filled their tummies with the bread and fish that Jesus had multiplied, for the Glory of God, we hear today that they DID Come back to Jesus for more.  But they just didn’t understand the meaning of it all.  And they refused to believe, unless they understood.  You see, what they lacked, was Faith.

Jesus wants us to believe, even though we may not understand!  And yet, He’ll feed us all the Knowledge we need, if we come to Him with open hearts and minds.  And where is that Knowledge?  It’s in His miracles, His signs.  It’s in His Words, that we can find in the Scriptures.  And it’s in each and every one of us, that we can witness in His, and our, Love for one another.  You see, the crowd lived and ate the miracle, but they didn’t see it.

It reminds me of a rainbow, and I do love rainbows.  Just think about it.  When we look at a rainbow, what do we really see?  Do we just see a big, colored, paint stripe in the sky?  Or is there more?

If we are thoughtful about it, beyond its beauty, a rainbow might remind us of the Bible story of Noah and God’s promise or covenant.  You remember: the animals 2 x 2, and the flood, and the rain.  Oh the rain!  You see, there’s a little more to a rainbow than just a paint stripe.  This is how that crowd saw the multiplication of the loaves.  And the ones who really thought about it, remembered the Bible story about Moses and the manna, the bread from heaven.  To them, that was the greatest miracle that ever happened!

But, you see, there was more.  If we think about it a little deeper, I think we all know, that a rainbow comes from the sun shining on the rain at just the right angle.  But did you realize that by looking at a rainbow, we’re actually looking at a reflection of the sun itself, shining through millions of tiny-little prisms.  And that when the angle between the sun, and the raindrops, and our eyes is between 40 and 42 degrees, those tiny little prisms break down the light of the sun.  That light, that’s too bright to look at with the naked eye, is divided into a magnificent spectrum of colors that we CAN look at.  And did you know that those colors are differentiated by their wavelengths, from red to violet, because of that 40 to 42 degree angle.

You see, in looking at a rainbow, we are actually peering into the very soul of the Sunlight itself, and it into us.  And all of this is not even taking account of our perception of that light.  The optics of God’s gift of our eyesight, the rods and cones, the optic nerve and the interpretation of that image in our brains.  It’s chemical and biological and physical.  And it’s still more than we can fully understand.  And yet, no photograph, or painting, or reflection on a wall, can ever come close to the TRUE Light of a Rainbow.

When the crowds came looking for Jesus, they were looking for a paint stripe, even though they didn’t realize that they were peering into the very Soul of God Himself, through the prisms of Jesus’ eyes.

You see the Exodus miracle of the manna in the desert, through Moses, was not really the reflection of God, it was just the paint stripe, the sign, that pointed to Jesus, who IS the True Reflection of God.  Jesus IS the True Bread from Heaven.  And it’s only when we Come To and Believe in Him, that we will truly have Life.

So now, as we come in Faith to this Table of His Sacrifice and His Banquet, with our minds prepared by His Word, maybe we’ll remember the complexity and the beauty of a rainbow, and we’ll know in our hearts that this is not just a symbol, or a sign, or a paint stripe.  This IS Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, in Body and Blood, in Soul and Divinity, who is entering into these vessels (our bodies) which we have prepared for Him, and through which our lives become His living Eucharistia – Thanksgiving.

 jmp 08-05-12

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 08-05-12
18th Sunday Ordinary Time B

First Reading:  Ex 16:2-4, 12-15

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, “Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!  But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.  Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“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.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.  In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.  On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was.  But Moses told them, “This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
What we have heard and know, and what our fathers have declared to us, we will declare to the generation to come the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength and the wonders that he wrought.
R.
He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven; he rained manna upon them for food and gave them heavenly bread.
R.
Man ate the bread of angels, food he sent them in abundance.  And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountains his right hand had won.
R.

Second Reading:  Eph 4:17, 20-24

Brothers and sisters:  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.

Gospel:  Jn 6:24-35

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.”

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