Theme: “WORK FOR FOOD THAT ENDURES TO ETERNAL LIFE.”
- Exodus 16:2-4. 12-15;
- Psalm 77 (78): 3-4. 23-25. 54. R/ v. 24;
- Ephesians 4:17. 20-24
- John 6:24-35
Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us not to “work for food that cannot last”, but to “work for food that endures to eternal life”!
The gospel today tells us that after being fed at “the miracle of the loaves” (Jn 6: 1-15; NJB), the people followed Jesus, but Jesus told them not to work for food that do not last, but to work for food that endures to eternal life.
More importantly, the gospel tells us that to work for food that endures to eternal life means to believe in Jesus! And when we believe in Jesus, God our Father will give us “bread from heaven”. And the bread from heaven will give life to the world!
Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus is the “bread from heaven” who gives life to the world! Thus we read in the gospel today:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Jn 6:35; SM)
Indeed Jesus is the “bread of life” both in word and in sacrament! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:
“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)
And thus verse 54 of chapter 6 of today’s gospel:
“Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day”. (NJB)
That is why our Sunday Mass consists of two parts, namely, “the Liturgy of the Word” and “the Liturgy of the Eucharist”. The “Liturgy of the Word” gives us faith. (Rm 10:17) And when we celebrate “the Liturgy of the Eucharist” with faith and eat the body of Christ and drink his blood, the Holy Spirit will transform us into the Body of Christ!
That is why it is important that we come early for Sunday Mass to read the readings before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass. And that is why it is important that we listen attentively to the readings and homily during Mass and not talk or use our hand phones during Mass! And that is why it is important that after Mass we share and pray spiritually and personally on the Sunday Mass readings in our Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had nothing to eat in the desert, so they grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and against God. They wanted to return to Egypt to eat meat and bread.
And more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them “bread from heaven”! The first reading prefigures the “bread from heaven” that Jesus gives in today’s gospel!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“The Lord gave them bread from heaven”. (Ps 77 (78): 24; SM)
And thus verses 23 to 25 of the responsorial psalm:
“He commanded the clouds above and opened the gates of heaven. He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven. Mere men ate the bread of angels. He sent them abundance of food”. (SM)
Again, the responsorial psalm prefigures the “bread from heaven” given by Jesus in today’s gospel!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells about “Renewal in Christ” (CSB), that is, to put off “the old self” and to put on “the new self”! This we did in baptism and we continue to do every Sunday in the Eucharist!
But we are happy to note that in our parish there are so many renewal movements that help us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ! We have the Charismatic Renewal, the Prayer Meetings, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible-Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, the Divine Mercy, etc.! All these renewal movements help us renew ourselves in Jesus Christ!
Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, the food of eternal life! And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may be renewed in his Son Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.