Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 12, 2012 Reflection

I Am the Bread of Life Reflection on Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34:2-9; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51 By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America On Wednesday, I will be celebrating the beginning of the ninth year since my ordination as a priest which gave me the very special gift to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This honor from God, of being among the precious few chosen to carry on the instructions of Christ to His apostles “As often as you do this you do so in commemoration of me” is both humbling and awe-inspiring. Because this gift means so much to me I have chosen today, to reflect on that reading from the readings for Sunday August 12th, which enumerate just how special the Eucharist is for sustaining us in our relationship with God and the need for us to avail ourselves of every opportunity to partake of it. Christ, Himself has said; “I myself am the bread of life, no one who come to me shall ever be hungry” The bread of life is the Eucharist, given to us by Jesus Christ when He celebrated the Passover Feast with His apostles. Christ took the bread and with His eyes raised up to heaven blessed it saying, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made, it will become for us our bread of life. Blessed be God forever” then He took the cup of wine blessed it saying; “Blessed are Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and the work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. Blessed be God forever” Christ then told his disciples and subsequently us; “This is my Body, This is my Blood, take and eat” Christ told us; “I came to give us a new covenant” in other words a a new binding agreement between the human race and God other than the one God had made with Moses. What better day could Christ have chosen than the Passover celebration which God demanded that all the Jewish people celebrate every year in remembrance of the Passing over of the angel of death and the original covenant made with Moses at that time, to make known God’s new covenant that His beloved son proclaimed to us. Today’s gospel continues the story of Christ’s visit to the temple in Capernaum where Jesus had just told the apostles and the crowd “You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains until life eternal, Food which the Son of Man will give you, it is on Him that God the Father has set His seal”. When asked “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered “This is the work of God, have faith in the one He has sent”. Have faith, in other words believing that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God made man, who was sent by God to teach us the way to gain eternal glory with God. “I myself am the bread of life; no one who comes to me shall ever be hungry”. Jesus went on and tells the crowd that even though they have seen all He had done, they did not believe. Unfortunately, today so many of us still question and have doubts. There are even some who say that Christ and God are all a myth conjured up by individuals to achieve power and wealth. Some even claim that there is no God at all. Then, as now, people murmur and say the same things as the people in today’s gospel, “HOW CAN HE CLAIM TO HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN”. Even allow this thought to enter your mind, let alone express it, indicates that you do not believe ALL things are possible with God. “I am the Living Bread which comes down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51) The Eucharist, which Jesus left us, is perhaps the most precious gift we could ever have. It is sad that so many choose not to partake of the gift at every opportunity. Christ has promised us “Let me firmly assure you, whoever believes has eternal life” By participating in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist we are given that extra boost to be able to ward off the forces of evil that surround us. The Eucharist is like a Super vitamin from God, which strengthens our defenses and brings us closer to God. Everyone who believes in God and Jesus Christ as the son of God should be able to partake of this God given gift to us. To deny someone this gift, not because they have committed a grievous sin, but because they have been divorced from an individual who was abusive or a philanderer or because they were created by God with a sexual orientation toward a member of the same sex, is wrong, if anything, these individuals need that extra boost to find God in their hearts and live a life that is pleasing to God. It saddens me that I, at this time, am limited in how many I can share the bread of life with because of not having a permanent chapel or place of worship. I am humbled though that I am able to distribute 2875 Eucharist the persons in the Nursing homes, hospices, and senior Living communities I visit and celebrate Mass at every year. Having been chosen as a priest at such a very late time in my life and being able to consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord, THE BREAD OF LIFE, is the greatest honor God or anyone else could ever bestow upon me and I am most humbled to have been able to do this for the past 8 years. I urge all to take advantage of the Eucharist, God’s life-giving gift, at every opportunity. It is a very precious gift which should not wasted. In these very chaotic times, we need to turn to Almighty God for the strength to endure them and make use of all the channels available to us. Prayer alone is not enough; we need to live our faith through our actions and participate in all the opportunities available to strengthen that faith. The Eucharist gives us the endurance to carry on until we are called home to the promise “Let me firmly assure you, whoever believes has eternal life” AMEN

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