19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 12th August, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

 
John 6:41-51

 

Have you ever had one of those occasions when instead of making yourself a nice thoughtful meal you opted for a cheap takeaway, or perhaps worked your way through a smorgasbord of junk food?  At the time it probably seemed like a good idea and fulfilled your hunger, but later on your stomach ‘argued’ with you and let you know your choice of menu may not have been the best.  After the quick fix wore off, instead of feeling good and energised, you felt poorly and regretted that you didn’t go to the trouble of making a decent meal or selecting your takeaway more carefully.

In our gospel passage Jesus presents himself as the bread of life… the living bread come down from heaven… of which we may eat and live.  Jesus is the loving meal prepared by the Father, crafted with great care over a long time, presented at the banquet table, meticulously laid out for us to attend.

In our Catholic tradition of course, the bread of life is the Eucharist – the source and summit of all our worship and life, from which we are nourished and strengthened for our journey of life.  In the Eucharist we have the perfect ‘meal’ embodying all that is good in a loving, nutritious meal.  Sadly many choose not to partake of this meal but instead fill their lives with the ‘junk food’ of secular society that can never fully nourish, sustain or fulfil, but can leave one feeling nauseas, and unsatisfied.

Over the centuries there has been much theological debate over whether we should only come to the table of life (Eucharist) in a sinless state, or if we should come in our sinful state.  Is the bread of life to reinforce our state of grace or to give healing, nourishment and transformation?  Is it a table for the sick (sinner) or a table for the saint – or both?  I would boldly suggest it is for both.

 

No one is perfect of course and from time to time we all desire the ‘junk food’ of life, but let’s keep striving for the good food of Jesus so that we can continue our pilgrim journey with energy.

Mark Wilson