18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 5th August, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

Ex 16:2-4,12-15; Ps 77 (sel.); Eph.4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35
 
 

Food for Eternal Life

Some years ago, one of my nieces, the mother of four teenage boys, in an effort to stem their restlessness and keep them happily involved in church-going, took them to Hillsong. They were very happy and became involved in the music scene. So began several years of participation in Assembly of God communities of one sort or another. Her knowledge of scripture grew by leaps and bounds and I had to admire her zeal.

But then the time came when she returned to the Catholic fold. She said, “Aunty, I loved knowing more of the Bible but I missed the sacraments.” They’re all Catholic, gosh yes, but I think their worship preference remains rather flexible, sacraments notwithstanding.

The heading for today’s Gospel reading is “Food for Eternal Life”. The selected verses from Exodus 16, our first reading today, show the Israelites’ need for food to be very much a here-and-now need.

 

Indeed, the quails and manna could be collected for just a day at a time. They were a type of things to come, namely the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, but more importantly, Jesus’s naming of himself as the Bread of Life. John Chapter 6 is the most uncompromising explication of this teaching. When the crowd followed him around the lake, Jesus was quick to point out that they were pursuing him “for food that cannot last” – their here-and-now need. He urged them to “work for food that endures to eternal life” for I am the bread of life, “the true bread (which) comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

 

“. . . but I missed the sacraments.”

To conclude, let us read from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:

It is (therefore) of the highest importance that the faithful should readily understand the sacramental signs and should with great eagerness frequent those sacraments that were instituted to nourish the Christian life.” (Vat.2 CSL 59b)