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JESUS: BELIEVING GOD TODAY. A reflection for the 18th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year B
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sat, 31 Jul 2021

               Readings: Ex 16:2-4,12-15; Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35

In Jesus’ feeding of the multitude last Sunday, he drew the attention of his audience to God’s providence. However,  we also recall that Jesus’ self-revelation to the people as the Son of God was not recognized. The crowd missed the more profound significance of God’s providence in the multiplied loaves. Jesus withdrew himself from the multitude and retired into the hills (Jn 6:15).

Today, we continue from where we stopped last Sunday. Step by step, Jesus resumes his teaching of deepening the understanding of the people about himself and his mission. He says, ‘I tell you truly; you are looking for me not because you have seen the sign but because you got enough bread to eat’ (6:26). In other words, Jesus insists that the multiplication of the loaves had different aims than just satisfying the physical hunger! Now, Jesus more directly shifts the attention to focus on his person as “the living bread,” the bread from heaven, and indeed, the “bread of eternal life.” How much clearer can Jesus be today?  He introduces the emphatic “I AM,” directing our faith to the Eucharist.

Let me state here that Christians have a right and duty to understand the Holy Scriptures from unquestionable Christian traditions. We allow to others whatever they wished to interpret, except or believe for themselves from Jesus’ proclamation. But may it be clear that the Catholic Christians hold no apologies for keeping the apostolic faith of God’s presence in Jesus. We cannot cease to proclaim that the miracle of the loaves moved from a sign of God’s abundance to the truth of God’s re-appearance in the Eucharistic symbol. In the highlights of the OT “man hu”  (Hb. trans. “what is that? Ex 16:15), we move to the NT explanation of the I AM: God in Christ. In the Psalm, we relive the revelation: The Lord gave them the bread. Today, we celebrate Christ in the Holy Eucharist as the bread of life.

The mystery of God’s hands does not go away. It remains. As the Exodus was a sign of greater things to come, so too, the Manna remains a pointer to the more extraordinary life. The Manna never stopped falling until the first harvest of God’s people inside the promised land (Jos 5:11,12). The bread of life that Christ provides will remain “until the kingdom of God comes” (Lk 22:18). The Eucharist is the new and eternal covenant. Its celebration is a memorial of Jesus until his return in glory.

As St Paul exhorts in last Sunday’s reading, he further explains in today’s second reading. Paul’s insistence centers on attentive listening. He calls us to the proper hearing of the truth of faith in the living bread of life. His appeal is for a renewal of the mind in response to our Eucharistic faith in Jesus. In short, Paul sues for the need to rediscover the path of grace holiness, which is what we receive in the Eucharist as Jesus’ body and blood. Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ teaching does not spare the explanation. His manner of interpretation tasks our hearts to be open for renewal. It must be a spiritual revolution (Eph 4:23). And the challenge is for everyone to try the ‘new self,’ one recreated from personal dialogue with the demands of Christ’s Gospel. 

Jesus, Paul, and the Church challenge us to a new listening. You who ask for what to do so that you could be doing God’s work and his will (Jn 6:28). You that crave that God may find you available and acceptable to God, now have your answer: “Believe Jesus Christ whom God has sent!” (Jn 6:29). Before moving any further, pause and reflect on the gift of faith which God has given to your family. Remember the dedication of your parents. Recall that your baptism is the sign of their faith. Also, know that to have faith is a gift and can only be accepted or refused. If you accept or believe in Jesus as the Saviour sent by God, separate your faith from the ideologies of political correctness.

The Christian faith is not true because the crowd opinion accredits it or justifies it.  It is faith precisely because it listens and hears the voice of Christ (Jn 18:37). Jesus Christ – the one whom God reveals to us afresh today, even as you have heard from the Gospel, is the content of the Christian faith. Thus, Jesus declares: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst”.  In teaching this, Jesus intended that you believe him. Ponder the “scandal” Jesus trailed by those words which today’s Gospel testifies that Jesus proclaimed publicly. Relive that proclamation. Relive the faith. Brace yourselves for the opposition and disregard the outrage.


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