Cycle B: 19th Sunday

The first reading and the Gospel reading this weekend continue with the theme of God providing us with the nourishment we need to strengthen us for our journey.  The Psalm picks this up with the refrain, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”  When I was young, I was told to eat even the foods I didn’t like the taste of, as they were essential for my wellbeing, and to provide me the sustenance I needed to accomplish the tasks I needed to finish; just as Elijah needed to be strengthened for his journey.

All too often, we tend to think everything depends upon us, we have no need of God.  We forget that the skills, health, and capacity to work are themselves gifts from God.  Jesus knew that we, as his followers, would need additional strength to complete our Christian journey and the tasks of transforming the world.  This section of the Gospel of John reiterates for us the orthodox understanding of the Eucharistic bread, that it is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus himself. 

Like some of the listeners when Jesus originally spoke, many today scoff at the possibility of Jesus giving us his body to eat and his blood to drink.  Those who think this way are part of the group that fail to hear, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him”.  To be drawn to him, we have to be open to what seems impossible to be a reality.  It requires us recognizing that we, as humans, are not always able to understand or rationalize our way in understanding how God works.  Jesus was challenged by those who could not accept this teaching and “many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”  Jesus’ reply did not state they misunderstood, he wasn’t worried about numbers or being politically correct.  He simply said, “Do you also want to leave?”

How do we follow Jesus, as Paul challenges us, and remove all “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, reviling and malice?  How do we find it possible to be kind to one another, compassionate and forgiving of one another” without the strength and nourishment that God provides?  Such can only be done when we become “imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love”.  The Body and Blood of Jesus continues to provide us with the nourishment of grace upon grace to accomplish the challenge and the journey to his holy mountain.

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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