VIEWING THIS BLOG
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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: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Elijah went into the wilderness, a day’s journey, and sitting under a furze bush wished he were dead. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘I have had enough. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down and went to sleep. But an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked round, and there at his head was a scone baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. But the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, or the journey will be too long for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he walked for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 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 33:2-9
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad. R.
Glorify the Lord with me.
Together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free. R.
Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This poor man called; the Lord heard him
and rescued him from all his distress. R.
The angel of the Lord is encamped
around those who revere him, to rescue them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
He is happy who seeks refuge in him. R.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30 – 5:2
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be set free when the day comes. Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.
Try, then, to imitate God, as children of his that he loves, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. 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 6:41-51
The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.
‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.’
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 word
Key words and phrases
How can he say ‘I have come down from heaven?’
No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me.
Everybody who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
to the point
In the first reading the food that God sent to Elijah strengthens him for the journey to the mountain so that he may encounter God. For Elijah the command is, ‘Get up and eat.’ In the gospel the food that God sends and the encounter with God are one and the same because the food is Jesus, the living bread that came down from heaven. For us the command is that we must believe.
Connecting the Word
to the first reading and two previous Sundays
In the first reading God sends an angel to Elijah with earthly food. In the gospel God sends the Son Jesus as heavenly food. Once again John shows how God’s actions in Christ go beyond all previous gifts of grace.
to human experience
Sometimes knowledge gets in the way of belief. In the gospel because the crowd thought they knew who Jesus was they were unable to believe in him.
Understanding the Word
Bread as teaching
This Sunday’s gospel is similar to last week’s in three important respects. First, the hinge of the passage is once again a quote from Scripture: ‘They will all be taught by God’ (Isa 54:13; John 6:45). This, in turn, highlights the second point: the focus is again on Jesus as Teacher and on his teaching. Third, once again, ‘the bread from heaven’ is Jesus’ teaching – what Sirach calls the ‘bread of learning’ (15:3).
In response to his teaching the Jews murmured against Jesus, just as their ancestors had murmured against Moses (Exod 16:2, 8). The crowd is troubled about Jesus’ statement, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven’ (6:41). They seem unconcerned that Jesus claims to be ‘bread’ but they question his heavenly origin: they know his family so ‘how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?’ (6:42). Jesus’ response in effect says that they don’t know Jesus’ origins because they don’t really know God.
The failure to know God is their own fault, not God’s: though God had given them the Law and spoken to them through the prophets, they have refused to be taught by God. Now God has once again tried to teach them in the Word made flesh and in the heavenly bread of Jesus’ teaching. Everyone who is ‘taught by God’ does three things: he or she ‘listens to my Father,’ ‘learns from him,’ and ‘comes to me’ (6:45). As we saw last week, ‘to come to’ Jesus is to ‘believe in’ Jesus. So, had people listened to God and been instructed by God’s word, they would have come to Jesus and would have believed in him. Believing in Jesus, ‘the bread that came down from heaven,’ gives life. Jesus explains, ‘the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ To ‘give his flesh’ is first and foremost a reference to his death on the cross where Jesus gives his life ‘for the life of the world.’ This sets the stage for next Sunday’s gospel when the eucharistic theme will be developed.
A realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh
Dear One and all,
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus takes off the gloves, as it were, and he confronts his listeners with the stark truth of why he has come, and what they must do to benefit from what he offers them. Most of today’s gospel has Jesus speaking, as if he has listened to their debating and rationalising long enough. However, it is very important to remember that the fourth Gospel was written at least some sixty years after the Resurrection of Jesus, hence it would seem that today’s Gospel is a pretty good reflection on how ‘the Way’ ( the first name given to followers of Christ) were going by the time that this was written.
A couple of weeks ago we saw the miracle of the loaves and fish, which paved the way for an understanding of the Eucharist. It would appear that Jesus had got their attention and their interest. They asked him in last week’s gospel, ‘What does God want us to do?’ and they seemed interested enough to listen to the answer. But in today’s story, once again Jesus began to speak about a personal God, a God among them, a God who was no longer in the Holy of Holies within the Temple or in the burning bush; but the people closed their ears, and became inflexible once more. Again we hear the echoes of Ps 95 Verse 8 ‘If, today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.’ This Psalm was well known by the people of Israel.
Jesus got straight to the point when he said that he was speaking about pure gift. Even the desire to come to him, to listen to him, to respond to him was a gift from the Father. It had nothing whatsoever to do with religious practice of the time, it was a whole New Covenant, and compared to the inflexibility of the Old Covenant they had inherited this was a radical change! Jesus had come in person to teach them, to lead them, to nourish and save them. They had a decision to make. They were either for him or against him.
Before we move on, we must pay attention to the implications of what Jesus said in the opening part of today’s reading, because it gives us a deeper understanding of another underpinning statement made by Jesus which really got their shackles up. Jesus said, “I am the bread that came down from Heaven.” We can easily miss the direct import of the words, ‘I am’. In the Greek text we would know exactly what the implications are, so not to hold you in suspense any longer….’I am’ in the Divine Name. In other words…YHWH. The Bread, what does that imply? Manna for sure, but what is the translation of the word MANNA? God’s Mercy and Goodness. Jesus, the human face of the Father! Wow! Now look at the claim of Jesus and why this caused such a response among His critics? But we must not forget that this Gospel was written about 100AD; therefore plenty of time had been given to who was Jesus Christ?
As we look back through history and explore the varied responses to the all-powerful Word of Jesus, we can easily say that the faces have changed but the message remains the same. We see here in this teaching from Jesus that by and large it was falling on deaf ears. What caused this? Was it the humanity of Jesus, ‘the son of Joseph’ which automatically closed off the creative options in their minds, because it was too good to be true? It would seem that fixed minds have been the stumbling blocks for many people throughout the ages. So fixed, that even the greatest miracles do not enable a flexible response, and in this case it was directly to Jesus the Word made flesh. Together with fixed minds goes blindness; the inability to see God’s power to save, linked with judgements based on helplessness. The end result; many walked away from Jesus! As John’s Gospel later tells us, many of them rejected it, walked away, and no longer followed him.’ John 6:60-61.
We probably do not walk away from Jesus, but we can easily be so comfortable within inflexible mindsets that we can run the risk of not being fully open to the Lord through prayer, in response to His Word, and the consequences of receiving Holy Communion. Sometimes my mind quivers somewhat when I hear and see instances where some Leaders in the Church are so black and white, with a touch of arrogance when dealing with greyish human problems. It can be comfortable and tidy to think that one has the whole truth, rather than listening to the truth in humility as manifested in ‘the poor of the Lord’. Hence we can be like the people in today’s Gospel. God is always doing a new deed, hence we are invited to ‘Go and be Jesus, and live what we have heard, seen and partaken at the Eucharistic table.’
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: We turn now to our God in heaven who hears all our prayers and grants our needs.
+For all members of the Church to come to know Jesus better through their participation in the Eucharist. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
+For all peoples of the world to seek God with all their hearts. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
+For those whose lives are characterised by grumbling and murmuring, that they might experience joy in coming to know God. we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
+That each of us here may give to others the gift of our self-giving. 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 in heaven, you draw us to yourself and desire that we have eternal life with you: hear these our prayers and help our unbelief. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.