The Gospel according to John (6:44-51)
Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, share your word and Eucharist with me as I turn my heart to you now in prayer. I need your resurrected power and life. Just as you opened the truth of your Father to the crowds, open the Gospel to me and give me a true hunger for you. Make my heart burn while you speak to me.
Encountering Christ: Have you ever sat in front of your favorite meal, eyes bugging out, mouth watering, in a moment of shear delight at the anticipation of something you have looked forward to for some time. You tear through it realizing you need to slow down and enjoy every morsel. Then you are done. You need to take a breath and maybe loosen your belt and think to yourself, I don’t want to eat another bite. Then someone suggest apple pie a la mode or a molten chocolate lava cake. Now, you don’t even want to think about food. That is until you get hungry again.
No matter how often or how much we eat we will eventually get hungry again. There is no food or amount of food that will ever satisfy our hunger forever.
Today’s Gospel talks about something or better someone who can nourish and fulfill our need and desire for spiritual food. In fact, it provides a beautiful pathway to the ultimate prayer, worship, liturgical experience that we can share at every celebration of the mass.
“Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.” In the liturgy of the mass, we hear many beautiful prayers, both ancient and contemporary, and the Word of God in Holy Scripture. We are also blessed with the opportunity to listen to a homily where a bishop, priest, or deacon can help us dig deeper into the message that God wants to share with us. The Liturgy of the Word is intended to awaken our hearts and minds to Jesus who awaits us in the meal prepared on the altar.
If we think about it everything, both in liturgy and outside of liturgy, should draw us and lead us to Jesus on the altar. There we encounter the one who made our salvation possible through his suffering, death, and resurrection. He offers us food, the bread that is his flesh for the world. Food that feeds our souls in such a way that no earthly food could ever satisfy. Food for the journey home.
The more we contemplate the significance and incredible gifts present in the celebration of mass, the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist, the more we should be in awe of how intimate we can be with the Holy Trinity. Every mass provides us with an opportunity to experience heaven and earth colliding in an explosion of grace that transforms our earthy bodies into vessels of the divine. Then we can make the love, compassion, and mercy of God known in all places we are blessed to be.
Closing Prayer: Lord of heaven and earth, may our hunger for you draw us ever closer to the divine gifts you offer us in the celebration of mass. May your Word and Holy Eucharist help transform us into missionaries that help change the world, one encounter at a time.
Action for the Day: Prepare yourself for you next mass experience by reading the scripture for that day. Contemplate the meaning of the readings through prayer and study. Think about how this preparation will help you encounter the risen Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Bon appetit!