Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

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

A new way of thinking, a spiritual revolution that transforms us to desire encountering Jesus, the bread of life. These phrases proclaim the good news that at this celebration we encounter Jesus the bread of life. Let me first share with you a brief story. It is about the situation in China and other parts of Asia in the 19th century during a period of years when there was rice shortage. Many families in the Asian region converted, were baptized and became active Christians as long as their physical needs were met by the Church. The name given to these Catholics was “Rice Christians” because as soon as the food situation improved they drifted away from Church. I share this story because in the Gospel of this Sunday, people go in search for Jesus, not because they really believe in Him, but because He gave them free lunch which was irresistible.  Jesus however takes the opportunity to proclaim himself as the bread of life. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst". Both the first reading and the Gospel this Sunday speak about God who miraculously provides for the physical needs of the people. The readings invite us to go beyond the physical needs; to focus our attention on Christ, who is the bread of life. Our concern for the physical needs must never overshadow our desire for the real bread of life that transforms us to be the best version of ourselves. In the Gospel we are told that the crowds were coming to Jesus because they had their fill of earthly bread. They were simply drawn to following Jesus because they knew they would be hungry again and that Jesus would feed them.

Jesus in the Gospel passage challenges us to be radically transformed by moving to a new level of awareness, to realize that Christ is everything that matters most to us. He is the bread of life. He is the one who satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst. Jesus invites us to go beyond our superficial, selfish encounters, to a deeper spiritual encounter, a genuine intimacy with him. The readings invite us to assess the reasons why you and I come to Church on Sunday or even daily. Are we simply running after food that perishes? If so Jesus invites us to assume a new way of thinking, a spiritual revolution that transforms us to seek food that satisfies our deepest hunger. You and I are here because we seek to be transformed by a real encounter with Jesus whom God has sent; we want to be deeply touched by Jesus so we may assume his way of thinking his vision, mission and purpose. So what is the take away message this Sunday? 1) The readings challenge us to evaluation our motives for coming to Church. Are we like the “rice Christians” simply running after food that perishes? 2) Do we come simply to fulfil a Sunday obligation; or are we here for what we get rather than what we give? 3) We are invited to a radical way of thinking; to seek and encounter Christ, the true bread of life that radically transforms us, so we may transform others by leading them to encounter Jesus Christ who is simply irresistible.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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