The Gospel According to John 6:35-40
Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Opening Prayer: Be present to your family, O Lord, we pray, and graciously ensure those you have endowed with the grace of faith, an eternal share in the Resurrection of your Only Begotten Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Are we truly ‘nourished’ by Eucharist and by the word in scripture? Are we aware of the ‘symbolism’ of the Eucharist; this is my body broken, my blood poured out for you; do this, be broken and poured out in loving service of others?
At that moment, in the Mass, when the priest has prayed the Lamb of God prayer, broken a part of the host, and put it in the chalice, he leans forward and prays, “Never let me be parted from you.” That prayer expresses the desire of the beloved. The love we feel from Jesus and others here on earth is just a promise, a down payment.
Covid-19 has emphasized for us how essential the ‘real’ presence of each of us is to each other. This is an invitation to reflect on the beauty and life-giving gift that being present to one another in service truly is.
Jesus promised us that if we come to him we would never hunger and thirst. Yet he also called “blessed” are those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). So, in some way, we are supposed to hunger, to feel that deep desire, that feeling of need for our Savior. The hunger Jesus satisfies is that existential longing for meaning and for transcendence.
We all long for our lives to matter, to make an impact, to mean something to someone. We want to be loved, needed, protected, and desired. None of us want to ever feel insignificant. That is a divine longing that reflects the God in whose images we are created. Jesus fully satisfies all that is in his person and particularly in his Incarnation and in the Eucharist. He has come down to be with us because he loves us and because we all matter to Him.
Yet, to be fully satisfied we need to believe in him. We need to take the risk of giving our hearts and minds to him in faith. The satisfaction of not hungering and thirsting is tied directly to coming to him and believing in him. Faith and following him are the solution. This is also true on the human level. No one can fall in love and experience the completeness that another brings, which is amazingly beautiful even if imperfect, without taking the risk of following and in the giving of ourselves completely.
The whole life of Jesus is a response to the Father’s will. Remaining completely faithful to the Father is what nourishes and sustains him. When we pray, we seek to find and do the Father’s will ourselves, continuing the work that Jesus started.
In Jesus’ life of complete obedience to the Father, we recognize our own call and our own true identity as human beings. Jesus came to draw each one of us to the Father. Everything he says and does is for this purpose.
Let us ask Jesus to help us to be as he was: not self-serving on some personal level, but doing the will of God, our Father.
It may be that, in our prayers, we learn to recognize what is enduring, and what is at the heart of life.
Lord Jesus Christ, your death brought life and hope where there was once only despair and defeat. Give us the unwavering hope of everlasting life, the inexpressible joy of knowing your unfailing love, and the steadfast faith and obedience in doing the will of our Father in heaven. Amen