18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (NAB Translation)
Welcome to the Sunday Says podcast for August 2, 2015, the eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Thank you for joining us as we open up the Word of God to prepare our hearts and minds for this Sunday’s Mass. This week we take a look at both the material and spiritual food God has provided his people in order to sustain them through the difficult journeys of life. As we reflect on these readings, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, to help us better appreciate the Eucharistic food that is provided for us each week at Mass. As always our readings are taken from the Jerusalem translation for copyright purposes. Let’s dive in.
This passage from the book of Exodus finds the people of Israel in the wilderness under the prophet Moses on their way to the promised land. They had just been rescued from the Egyptians, but their gratitude is short-lived when they get hungry and begin to long for the food of their former country. When they complain, God delivers them by providing food in the form of something called “manna,” a type of bread from heaven, and quail. The manna, being miraculous, becomes the symbol for God’s providence throughout the Old Testament and prefigures the Bread from Heaven that Jesus offers, that is, the Eucharist. Are we sometimes guilty of not trusting in God’s providence to provide for us?
The response is: The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
In our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul calls Christians to live life in a radically different way from that of the Gentiles. He says they live in the “futility of their minds,” meaning they are intellectually prideful and ruled by their own selfish desires and passions. They prefer their own will rather than submitting themselves to God’s will. As Christians we are supposed to subordinate our passions and conform our lives to the pattern of Jesus, as we were taught by Him. The change needed in us is such a complete transformation of our ways of thinking and living that Paul refers to it as putting on a “new self.” This is the same idea as Jesus saying we must die to ourselves. Dying to our old self may be very difficult but is possible with God’s grace. Not only is it possible, but absolutely necessary. We cannot bear fruit if we continue to be slaves to our pride and old ways of thinking.
At the beginning of our reading from St. John’s gospel, Jesus gently rebukes the crowd because their motivation for seeking him was to satisfy material desires. ““Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. ” Then he adds “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” In these words, it seems as if Jesus senses in the people of his time the very same longing and frustration that the ancient Israelites felt in the wilderness after their escape from Pharaoh. Notice that this is confirmed when his hearers refer to the ancient period by saying , “Our ancestors ate manna in the desert.” Not only are they seeking to confirm if Jesus is truly a prophet like Moses, they are clearly seeking direction in life. What they don’t know is that the manna that was provided by God for the ancient Israelites journey in the desert is about to be surpassed by something far greater and more profound. It must have been shocking to some to hear Jesus say that he himself was the “bread of life” — but by saying this, Jesus anticipates the Eucharist which will be become for each believer food for life’s journey to sustain us even during difficult times.
Gospel Meditation from Bishop Vasquez
Please consider using the following meditation for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Aug. 2):
The people wanted to see a sign (miracle) from Jesus. They wanted manna yet they had something greater than manna right in front of them and did not see it. Do you give time to pray in Jesus’ presence, who is fully present in the Eucharist, in front of the tabernacle or at adoration?
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