HOMILY FOR 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, 2015

That was an interesting dialog we heard in today’s Gospel passage.  It begins with a complaint, a criticism from Jesus.  He says to the crowds, including his closest followers, Your enthusiasm for me is not based on your understanding of who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish.  So far, you don’t seem to be grasping either.  The truth is that you’re coming to me again and again so excitedly because I’ve given you plenty of free food when you were hungry and your cupboard was empty.  You’ve gone out of your way, you’ve pushed and shoved and spent your energy only to get here for more.  But you don’t hear what I’m saying to you even when you’ve taken the lesser part of what I offer.  Your sense of values is upside down.  If you had your heads on straight, you’d be breaking your backs to get the bread that gives permanent life, not just the bread that can only tide you over until tomorrow.

And the people, still not understanding him, asked how they could get this marvelous food.

Jesus answered, Put your complete trust in me.

They reply, We will, if you give us some kind of proof that you are from God.  We’re not asking for any more than our ancestors got when the manna came to them from heaven in the desert.  That’s the reason they trusted in Moses.

And Jesus wraps things up by saying, Get this into your heads now and don’t ever forget it.  I myself am the bread that has come from heaven.  I don’t need to give a sign: I am the sign.  Anyone who comes to me shall never hunger or thirst again.

As we today use every human skill we possess to resolve the never-ending series of problems in our lives, we mustn’t forget for one minute that all our deepest desires, all our hopes, all our hungers, will be fulfilled through personal union with Jesus.

I purchased and listened twice to the CD version of a book by Mark Shriver, son of President Kennedy’s brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, in which he celebrates the thoroughly Catholic life of his father, not only on the world stage where he spent much of his life, but especially as a husband and father.  One of his many tributes reads –

In his final letter to us, Dad wrote about his parents (these words) — “Their experience [of bankruptcy and despondence during the Great Depression] helped convince me that putting trust in money or in any economic system is absurd.  It is wiser and safer to trust in the Lord than in banks or gold or the New York Stock Exchange.” 

It was (Dad’s) faith in a different system that kept his eyes on a richer wealth, a bigger prize.  He went to Mass every day and had a daily relationship with God, even a minute-by-minute relationship with God – that’s what gave Dad “power,” gave him his hope. 

He kept us believing; he kept us hopeful.  When he walked into a room, you just felt better.  You felt ready for the day. 

+ We have to reach out to Jesus actively, not merely accept him passively.

+ We must expect that in his teachings and example we will find reliable guidelines for the best way of living a really human life.

+ We must pray daily – not in many words or formulas – but in sentiments that come from our heart and mind and will, starting with prayer of gratitude…

+ We must develop an on-going conversation with him – with or without words – as the events of our day suggest.

+ We must celebrate his presence with us in the countless ways he is to be found and encountered, especially in other persons and in the Eucharist, where we can know him better in the breaking of the bread.

+ When bad things happen to us, we should join our sufferings with his, confident that these too will be swallowed up in his victory over death on that cross.

It’s all about personal relationship – with God, with Jesus, with each other.

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