Homily (Reflection) for the Nineteenth Sunday of the Year (B) (12th August, 2018) on the Gospel
1Kg 19:4-8;Ps 33:2-9 (R. V. 9);
“A certain minister was disturbed to see a shabby old man go into his church at noon every day and come out again after a few minutes. What could he be doing? He informed the caretaker and asked him to question the man. After all, the place contained valuable furnishings. ‘I go to pray,’ the old man said in reply to the caretaker’s questioning. ‘Come on,’ said the other, ‘you are never long enough in the church to pray.’ ‘Well, you see,’ the shabby old man went on, ‘I cannot pray a long prayer, but every day at 12 o’clock, I just come in and say, ‘Jesus, it’s Jim,’ and wait a minute and then come away. It’s just a little prayer, but I guess He hears me.’
“When Jim was injured some time later and taken to the hospital, he had a wonderful influence in the ward. Grumbling patients became cheerful and often the ward would ring with laughter. ‘Well, Jim,’ said the sister to him one day, ‘the men say you are responsible for this change in the ward. They say you are always happy.’
“Yes, sister, I am. I can’t help being happy. You see, it’s my visitor. Every day he makes me happy.’
“‘Your visitor?’ The sister was puzzled. She noticed that Jim’s chair was always empty on visiting days, for he was a lonely old man, with no relations. ‘Your visitor? But when does he come?’
“‘Every day,’ Jim replied, the light in his eyes growing brighter. ‘Yes, every day at 12 o’clock he comes and stands at the foot of my bed. I see him and he smiles and says, ‘Jim, it’s Jesus’” (Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: St Pauls, pp. 88-89).
Topic: Accepting Jesus, the Teacher.
In today’s gospel, Jesus goes on to explain to the Jews and in fact to all of us that He is the bread that came down from heaven for the life of the world:
Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn 6:47-51).
Jesus’ teaching made the Jews uncomfortable. Hence, they complained: “... ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (Jn 6:42). The true bread which is Jesus’ Body and Blood cannot be compared with the manna their ancestors ate, which although satisfied those who ate it but could not offer eternal life. Jesus, the bread of life not only give bodily satisfaction but ultimately eternal life to all who accepts Him, cf. Jn 6:35, 48.
In the bible, Jesus was referred to both by His disciples (cf. Jn 20:16), friends (cf. Jn 11:28), the scribes and the Pharisees (Lk 19:39; Jn 3:2; 8:4) and even by Himself (cf. Lk 22:11; Jn 13:13-14) as the Teacher. Yet some of these people who acknowledged Him as Teacher refused to listen to His teaching: “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:48). Today, more people referred to Jesus as their Lord, Teacher, Saviour, God, and so on. Just like the time of historical Jesus, some who refer to Jesus as their Lord, Teacher, Saviour, God and so on reject Christ’s Body and Blood, the bread of life which is from heaven offered to us as a pledge of eternal life. For some, they are mere piece of bread and wine. That the Jews knew Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and Joseph, His foster father did not remove the fact that Jesus is the bread of life from heaven. Likewise, the appearance of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the form of bread and wine did not remove the fact that they are His real Body and Blood.
Let us take just one account of the institution of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (Holy Communion) which took place during His Last Supper with His disciple, as recorded by Saint Paul. Jesus
...took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1Cor 11:23-26).
My dear brothers and sisters, we must recall God’s complain through the prophet Malachi: “A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honour? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you...’” (Mal 1:6). In the same vein, if Jesus is our teacher, why do we reject His teaching: “I am the bread of life”? We should accept this eternal life-giving bread freely offered to us by Jesus. He is our Teacher. He knows better than all of us put together. Rejecting the bread of life freely given is tantamount to freely accepting everlasting death. Just like the case we see in our introductory story, accepting Jesus is not just for the eternal life. Jesus calling us friends is not just a mere lip service, cf. Lk 12:4; Jn 15:15. However, it has a price tag, doing what He commands us, cf. Jn 15:14.
Bible Reading: Jn 13:1-20; 1Cor 11:23-26.
Thought for today: Do you obey Jesus, our teacher?
Let us pray: Jesus, our Teacher, we are aware that we have resisted your teaching in different ways. We pray for your grace to be completely obedient to you – Amen.
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