4th / 5th August 2018

posted 13 Aug 2018, 02:07 by Parish Office

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (4 & 5/8/18)

 

As I mentioned last week, today we continue our look at John 6 with “part two”.  I’m going away on holiday in a few weeks’ time, so I won’t be able to preach to you over the whole of our reading of John ch 6, so I’ll have to truncate what I was going to say.

 

The manna in the desert:  to begin with, it was a test of the Israelites’ faith.  And they weren’t doing too well.  They doubted that God could sustain them throughout the journey to the Promised Land, and wished they were back in Egypt.  God proved them wrong.

 

In this country, a regular food supply is taken for granted, but in some countries today it’s still an issue, and in our own country in the past, it wasn’t always so.  Think back to the Second World War, when food was rationed.  Even for some people in our country today, lack of money means a lack of food, with people having to rely on foodbanks.  On the radio on Friday, someone said that only 8% of people on universal credit find that it gives them enough to live by.  Lack of food, and not knowing where your next meal will come from, can cause major stress.  So no wonder the Israelites were tested in the desert, and the people in the Gospel were eager to follow someone who could multiply food and solve the food shortage problem.

 

Issues of basic sustenance are not things to make jokes out of.  But there’s something, or rather someone, even more important than ordinary food, and that’s Christ.  “Do not work for the food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life.”  What is the focus of our life and work?  Earning enough to pay the mortgage and do up the house?  Or is it our relationship with God, our love of the House of the Lord, our desire for salvation and to draw others to follow the Lord as well?  Where is our heart?  St Paul says the same to us in the second reading:  “I urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live … You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires.”

 

When the Israelites had to eat manna and quails in the desert, they were being trained to be dependent on God and to follow His ways.  As well as relying on Him so that each day there would be food, there was an additional test.  You can read about it if you look in your Bibles around the passage that was quoted in the first reading.  Each day, they were to gather manna for themselves, but not to keep it for the following day.  Some, of course, did, and it went off.  But on the sixth day of the week, they were to gather twice the amount, and it would keep for the seventh day, because they were to rest on the seventh day.  Every seventh day, when they kept the manna from the previous day, it did not smell foul or breed maggots.  Yet there were those who, to begin with, did not trust God nor obey Him, and went looking for manna on the seventh day.  They soon learned.  In the Our Father, we say, “Give us this day our daily bread”, and that prayer, which we should say daily, doesn’t just ask God for the ordinary things that we need, such as food, shelter and clothing, but also for the daily celebration of the Eucharist.  That, too, is our daily bread, the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  In fact, some parishes use very thin hosts which melt on the tongue, a bit like the manna in the desert which was also rather delicate.

 

Christ is the One who sustains us.  “He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.”  In Christ we have complete satisfaction; if we go for junk food then we will suffer deficiency diseases.

 

For some people, one of the sources of great pain in their lives is the thought that something is missing in their marriage.  There can be various reasons for this.  But for some couples, one of the reasons is that Christ is not at the centre of their marriage, and Christ is not at the centre of their lives.  Spouses expect to find complete fulfilment in each other – but their spouse is not God.  They are not perfect, and if they expect their spouse to be perfect then they will be in for a disppointment.  Yes, marriage can be a very important way in which two people experience the love of God through each other; but just as a priest is not perfect, even though God works through Him, in the same way someone’s spouse is not perfect either.  Growth in holiness makes us more perfect, closer to God and more God-like, but we will always fall short.  Only Christ is Christ; only Christ is our saviour – no-one else.  No-one can replace God in our lives, and no-one should demote God to second or third place in our lives.

 

“I am the bread of life.

He who comes to me will never be hungry;

he who believes in me will never thirst.”

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