Speak Lord: Speak, Bread of Life

Exposition, Piarist Church, Cracow aOn the 18th Sunday of Ordinary time in Year B, ie next Sunday, the gospel reading continues the reading from chapter 6 of the Gospel of John, begun last week.

Last week’s passage ended with Jesus heading for the hills to escape the enthusiasm of the crowd, that would crown him king.

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:

‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’

John 6:24-35

On their meeting the people seem a little sheepish, the enthusiasm of yesterday (?) seems to have ebbed away. All they can ask is ‘when did you come here?’ Hardly the most pressing question to ask the prophet they would make king!

Jesus responds to their clumsiness with words that challenge. He calls them to something more than they might be asking for.

They show themselves willing, just about.

But this passage ends with challenge also. They want bread, life giving bread. Jesus offers (only) himself.

  • How happy with that are they?
  • How happy with that are we?
  • For what do we long? What is it we strive for?

Speak Lord: Of healing and love

Peter's House 2

 

The Gospel reading for today, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, tells stories of healings and teaches about discipleship.

 

On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went with James and John straight to the house of Simon and Andrew. Now Simon’s mother-in-law had gone to bed with fever, and they told him about her straightaway. He went to her, took her by the hand and helped her up. And the fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and those who were possessed by devils. The whole town came crowding round the door, and he cured many who were suffering from diseases of one kind or another; he also cast out many devils, but he would not allow them to speak, because they knew who he was.

In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Simon and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everybody is looking for you.’

He answered, ‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighbouring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.’ And he went all through Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out devils.

Mark 1:29-39

Jesus is less concerned for those who are looking for him. He is more concerned for those who do not know of the love and care of God for all people everywhere, always.

The Gospel restores a certain independence to those who receive it – not independence from God but freedom from those things that otherwise distract and bind us.

Peter is preoccupied with managing Jesus. His mother in law is happy to receive new life, to love and serve.

 

Peter's house 1

Peter's House 4

Peter's house 3

Images of the 20th C church built over the remains of the 1st century house of St Peter, contained within the octagonal walls of churches of the 4th and 5th centuries. Capernaum, Galilee. Photographs (c) 2007, 2012, 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Christ teaches – who learns?

hagia sophia

The Gospel reading at Mass on Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary time, spoke of Jesus as teacher and healer

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach.

And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the ,scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him.

The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’

And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

Mark 1:21-28

Sunday was Education Sunday. A day for thanking God, and praying, for those who have the vocation to be teachers.

In the Gospel the people are quick to distinguish Jesus from other teachers and to identify the difference in the authority he displays and the power he exercises.

As the Gospel narrative proceeds Jesus remains authoritative and powerful, but many people prove themselves unwilling to learn from him.

It is easy to ‘blame’ teachers for people’s failure to learn, and of course good teachers often have good strategies to engage unwilling learners and tease them into helpful engagement with the matter at hand. Even so teaching and learning is always a cooperative venture.

  • What might the Lord be seeking to help you learn, that you might be resisting?
  • What might you be longing to help others learn that they might be resisting? What other approaches might you take to help their learning?

Image derived from photograph of mosaic of Christ from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. (c) 2002, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Set us free.

Capernaum healing

The Gospel reading at Mass today, the 4th Sunday in Ordinary time, speaks of a healing in Capernaum, in Galilee.

Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach.

And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the ,scribes, he taught them with authority.

In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him.

The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’

And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.

Mark 1:21-28

The Gospel is spoken and shared today that there may be healing of our hearts and our minds.

Often, like the unclean spirit in the gospel, we know about Jesus, but are unwilling for, even fearful of, his exercising power over us.

Good Christians are not so much those who ‘do for Jesus’ as those who allow him to ‘do for them’. It is frightening to contemplate what change he might bring about in our lives, for we have often grown used to our accommodations. But he calls us to freedom, to newness, and the life that comes from love, flourishes by love, and produces a harvest of love.

Pray to Holy Spirit for the courage to say yes to God today.

Photograph of carving from the Church of St Peter in Capernaum. (c) Allen Morris, 2013