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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD.
It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.
First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15
The whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, ‘Why did we not die at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart’s content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!’
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day’s portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not.’
‘I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, “Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart’s content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.”’ And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, ‘What is that?’ not knowing what it was. ‘That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’ The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)
Psalm: Ps 77:3-4. 23-25. 54
R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
The things we have heard and understood,
the things our fathers have told us,
we will tell to the next generation:
the glories of the Lord and his might. R.
He commanded the clouds above
and opened the gates of heaven.
He rained down manna for their food,
and gave them bread from heaven. R.
Mere men ate the bread of angels.
He sent them abundance of food.
He brought them to his holy land,
to the mountain which his right hand had won. R.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt from Christ, unless you failed to hear him properly when you were taught what the truth is in Jesus. You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth. The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! We never say it… 🙂
Gospel: John 6:24-35
When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me
because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
‘I tell you solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Reflection time again……. Can you see and hear the links, connecting the First Reading, and the Gospel? After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..
DEEP SEA DIVING INTO THE SCRIPTURES
If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
I will rain down bread for you from the heavens.
The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
I am the bread of life.
Those who come to me will never be hungry.
Those who believes in me will never thirst.
Work for food that endures to eternal life.
No one lives on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Put on the new person that has been created in God’s image.
to the point
The God who sent manna from heaven to feed the Israelites in the desert (first reading and psalm) also sent the Son as the true bread from heaven to give life to the world. The only way to receive this bread is to believe in the one he sent.
Connecting the Word
to the first reading
In both the first reading and gospel the bread that is given is bread from God. One satisfies bodily hunger; the other satisfies spiritual hunger for eternal life. Once again, in John’s gospel, Jesus goes beyond Old Testament expectations.
to our culture
Religious belief may be perceived by some as something nice to have but not essential for good living. The gospel explicitly states that belief is essential for eternal life.
Understanding the Word
Bread as teaching
The crowd appropriately addresses Jesus as ‘Rabbi’, i.e., ‘Teacher’. In this section Jesus teaches them as he feeds them with the bread of his word. There is an OT precedent for this image: according to Sirach 15:3 Wisdom will feed those who fear the Lord with ‘the bread of learning’ and will give them ‘the water of wisdom to drink’.
In this first reflection on the ‘bread of life’ the verbal action centres not on ‘eating and drinking’ but on ‘seeing and believing’. Though the crowd had just seen Jesus feed the 5000, they ask, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you?’ (6:31). Then they challenge Jesus with a paraphrase from Psalm 78:24, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’. Implicitly the crowd compares the great signs done by Moses to those done by Jesus. This scriptural verse is the hinge for this Sunday’s passage. Jesus redefines each major element in it and in so doing comes to his main teaching.
‘He gave them’ implies that Moses gave the manna. Jesus corrects them: ‘My Father gives’. First, it was God, not Moses, who provided manna. Second, Jesus announces that God is ‘my Father’. Already, Jesus’ superiority to Moses is evident.
‘Bread from heaven’ refers to the perishable manna. But Jesus is thinking about ‘the bread of God that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world’ (John 6:33). Moses himself had instructed the Hebrews about the significance of manna: ‘one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord’ (Dent 8:3 and this Sunday’s gospel verse). Jesus similarly instructs the crowd that ‘life’ comes from God’s word (5:24). Jesus is himself the Word of God (1:1, 14) come down from heaven.
If the ‘bread’ is God’s word, how does one ‘eat’ it? Jesus tells them: one must ‘come to me’ and ‘believe in me’ (6:35). Note the parallelism: ‘to come to’ Jesus is ‘to believe in’ him. Jesus’ word is the bread from heaven; believing in his word gives life.
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh
Dear One and All,
Last week we heard about the multiplication of the loaves and fish. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tries to teach the people about the eternal food He is offering them. He answers a very core and central question, which they put to Him … ‘What does God want us to do?’
Looking at the question, it’s a very simple yet very essential one. However, the answer is much more important. ‘This is what God wants you to do: To believe in the one he has sent.’ The answer is about faith which leads to action, otherwise, it remains up in the head, as mere knowledge. It’s not faith to know that Jesus is God … even the Devil knows that much, but that doesn’t change things. Faith dwells within the heart and is often in our feet as we step out in faith. It’s in our eyes as we look at others in Christ’s way. Faith is in our ears as we listen to our sisters and brothers and is on our tongues as we speak to one another.
Last week I touched on the subject of Faith when I said ‘it seems that Our Lord’s under-`standing of FAITH had a lot to do with VISION: in other words, seeing the saving hand of God in and through the SIGNS and symbolism of everyday life’. As we continue to look at the message within the Gospel, it’s so simple that we can run the risk of complicating it! It is a simple message for very complicated people. If we could become less complicated, our ability to accept and believe the Gospel would become so much easier. For instance; when Jesus speaks about eternal life, He says simply … ‘which I, the Son of Man, can give you.’ In other words, we don’t need a map or GPS to search for it. We know where it is and where and how to get it. The fitting words of James McAuley in his Hymn In Faith and Hope and Love underlines this point, ‘Christ, our star our map our road, to the Father’s high abode.’ GA 442.
The people asked Jesus to give them that bread every day of their lives. The response given by Jesus is mind blowing; ‘I am the bread of life!’ In the prayer He taught them – the Our Father – they were told to ask for their daily bread. Hence the Celebration of the Eucharist is the central action of worship for the Christian Community alongside with God’s Living Word in the Scriptures.
The Church has underlined time and time again and for a very good reason, why we should come to Mass on the Lord’s Day. The Celebration of the Eucharist is the highlighted time for us to gather as the living body of Christ, to listen and absorb the Bread of God’s Word, and receive the Bread of life in Holy Communion. It’s then that we are strengthened to go forth and ‘LIVE’ what we have received as an active response to God’s loving nourishment freely given to us. Hence, faith and action go hand in hand.
Finally, in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for daily bread – not yesterday’s bread. Do we take the opportunity of seeking the Bread of life through daily prayer … in reflective reading from the Scriptures … responding sensitively to the Christ in one another. It’s all about seeing, believing and doing. God Bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer. Fr Kev
OUR FAMILY PRAYER TIME………
This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. During Easter tide you might like to place some white and gold material on your devotional altar. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word. Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. The burning of some fragrant oil also can evoke in the minds of your family, ‘prayer time’. Someone in the family might like to be the leader of the intercessions, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer..
Leader: God sends bread from heaven that we might come to believe in the one sent. We pray for greater faith.
That the Church may be a living sign to the world of bread from heaven in our midst. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That all peoples of the world might believe in God and receive the goodness and compassion of God. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That those suffering from broken relationships might be healed. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That each of us here grow deeper in our faith relationship with Jesus, the Bread of Life. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
That the Olympic Games in London, will be a time of multi cultural bonding, sharing and understanding, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
Leader: God of blessings, you send bread from heaven so that we might have eternal life: give us this bread always. We ask this through Christ, the Bread of Life. Amen.
Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland.
Iona Abbey is located on the Isle of Iona, just off the Isle of Mull on the West Coast of Scotland. It is one of the oldest and most important religious centres in Western Europe. The abbey was a focal point for the spread of Christianity throughout Scotland and marks the foundation of a monastic community by St. Columba, when Iona was part of the Kingdom of Dál Riata.
1. The Cross
ALL WE SHALL TAKE IT.
2. The bread……………
ALL WE SHALL BREAK IT.
3. The pain
ALL WE SHALL BEAR IT.
4. The joy………………
ALL WE SHALL SHARE IT.
5. The Gospel……………
ALL WE SHALL LIVE IT.
6. The love…………
ALL WE SHALL GIVE IT.
7. The light……………
ALL WE SHALL CHERISH IT.
8. The darkness…………….
ALL WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.