These are the concluding lines of the first reading this weekend (Aug. 18th/19th) and set the scene for the other readings. The psalm urges us to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. The gospel concludes that ‘anyone who eats this bread (of life) will live forever’. This is the fourth consecutive Sunday that we listen to words about the bread of life and the Eucharist. It has been a continuous teaching about the nature and power of the Eucharist. Most likely, we are still in ‘holiday mode’ and during the coming week we will be immersed in the visit of Pope Francis. The highlight of the Pope’s visit will be the huge gathering for Mass in the Phoenix Park on next Sunday afternoon. The Eucharist will be at the centre drawing people from every parish in Ireland and beyond. Please God, the power of the Eucharist to unify people and to strengthen them will be tangible and that blessings will flow from that historic gathering. This weekend, we ‘walk in the ways of perception’. We want to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. We want the bread of eternal life in through the Eucharist.
The readings are blunt and direct this weekend (Aug. 11th/12th). Elijah is close to despair yet the words of the angel to him are clear, ‘get up and eat’. In the gospel, Jesus bluntly tells people, ‘stop complaining to each other’. Both statements might seem uncaring to the listener and to the modern mind. These statements are blunt because they both point directly to the truth that is in front of people and they are unable to see it. It is as if a drape is removed from people’s eyes and they can see the truth and the power of the presence of Jesus Christ in the bread of life and the Eucharist. It is as if Jesus in the gospel and the angel in the first reading shake the people to see the answer to all their complaining straight in front of their eyes. Today, we may have many complaints, doubts, worries and reservations but the power and beauty of Jesus in the Eucharist is straight in front of our eyes and our lives. Listen this weekend and, if necessary, be jolted into the presence of God in the Eucharist. We are a privileged people with something truly wonderful in the Eucharist.
Last weekend, we saw Jesus caring for the disciples who were tired and worn. He brought them to ‘a lonely place’ where ‘he thought them at length’. Jesus does exactly the same in the account of the loaves and fishes in the gospel this weekend (Jul. 28th/29th). It says that Jesus ‘looked up and saw a large crowd approaching’. It also says that ‘Jesus knew exactly what he was going to do’ in providing for this huge gathering. Understandably, this account of the loaves and fishes is understood in the context of our celebration of the Eucharist. Jesus knows us well and understands our needs. Jesus understands our need for nourishment and companionship as we literally sit in groups in different churches and locations throughout the world. We receive more than we could ever imagine through the Eucharist and the golden virtues of faith hope and charity. These gifts are the ‘twelve baskets’ that ‘overflow’ from our Mass into life and the lives of our families. This weekend, we are in the right place, gathering around the altar of the Lord who nourishes our tiredness and our hunger. May God bless you and your family and may you be blessed with faith, hope and charity
This weekend (Aug. 4th/5th), we continue listening to chapter six of the gospel of John or the ‘Eucharistic Chapter’. At the end of the gospel, the whole community cry out ‘give us that bread always’. It is a cry from the heart to be nourished by the presence of Jesus who says ‘I am the bread of life’. Most days, we all have our meals routinely at a certain time of the day. We realise that we can become irritable and tired if we don’t do so. If we get very hungry, we will grab the first thing that we can put our hand on or rush into a shop to get anything to eat. The whole community are hungry and we can understand their cry. Jesus is their ‘bread of life’. Their hearts and their spirits are lifted and their hunger disappears in the presence of Jesus. It is a wonderful feeling and one that they will pursue. This weekend, we pursue the same nourishment and crave for the same bread of life. In our Mass we will hear that Jesus is the bread of life. Please God our hunger will be satisfied as well, our tiredness disappears and we can be refreshed
The beautiful weather has put most people in good form. People are more relaxed and routine has been put aside to make the most of the sunshine. Please God, that will remain the case for people and families for another while. In the gospel text this weekend, Jesus is calling the disciples to ‘rest a while’. The disciples have even forgotten to eat. Many people understand how that can happen because of commitments, stress and worry. It is not a good thing to forget to eat and yet it happens so easily. Equally, people of faith can forget to sit at the table of the Lord and be nourished by the Word of God and the Eucharist. Furthermore, we can be rushing and stressed. Each time we come to Mass, we follow Jesus to that ‘lonely place’ to be with Him and to ‘rest a while’. We are fed at the table of the Lord and brought back to ourselves and to God. Every weekend, we can make that sacred journey with Jesus and be revived and renewed. Take that opportunity and gift today and ‘rest for a while’ in the company of Jesus and of one another.