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Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B

August 8, 2021

John 6: 41-51

By Rev. John Tran

In today’s gospel, we are still struggling with belief. We see the Jews enter the scene; they are the ones, you remember, who are supposed to be most in tune with God. And yet, here they are not quite able to believe that Jesus in the Son of the Father, much less that he is the Bread of Life. The crowd and the Jews are looking for a way of staying alive and achieving freedom from Rome. They have seen the cures; they have seen the abundance of bread and fish, more that was needed. They want all this for the rest of their lives. But they fail to see that Jesus, the Bread of Life, is offering life in abundance for ever - beyond their natural lives. We can sit back and make fun of them, but are we so different?

There was an Italian family that had fallen on hard times when their family business failed, and they lost everything. The neighbors were sympathetic, worked hard at fund-raising and after a certain time managed to get them sufficient money for a trip to America, where the family believed they could make their fortune. The family had never been far from home, so they had no idea how to prepare for a long sea voyage by boat from Italy to New York. They bought bread and cheese and packed a few boxes with sandwiches. They gathered in a single cabin on the boat with no desire to mix with others in case of finding themselves embarrassed or out of their depth. On the first, second, third, fourth and fifth day they ate sandwiches. From then on the sandwiches began to go bad and began to smell. By now they were all in a bad way. They felt sick, hungry, and deeply discouraged. With a day or two left before reaching New York, one little boy begged his dad for a few pennies so he could go on the deck and buy some sweets. The dad gave him a few pennies and off he went. He didn’t return and after an hour the father was forced to go up on deck and search for him. When he came up on the deck, he was amazed to find rows and rows of tables surrounded by people eating a beautiful dinner. There in the midst of them was his son, with a plate of turkey, ham, potatoes, and vegetables in front of him, together with a large beaker of Coke. The father came up behind him and whispered, “Why did you do this? You know rightly we cannot afford this.” The young boy’s eyes lit up as he replied,“Dad, we could have had this every day. This is all included with the tickets!” We too often fail to appreciate and enjoy the Heavenly Food freely given to us by a loving God.

That is exactly the dynamic going on in this crowd and among the Jews; they are not thinking clearly. They cannot grasp what the Father is doing; they can only complain. Jesus tells them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw them , and I will raise them up on the last day.” The generosity of the boy could not move them; the faith of the disciples left them untouched; the miracles of the cures and Jesus multiplying the food seemed to mean nothing. What more could the Father have done?

We have to look around. What do we observe? How is the communion we share changing us? Who is the Lord sending to us to inspire or help us? Who is trying to show God’s love for us to see? Who is God sending to us that God’s love may be seen? The crowd and the Jews have nothing on us. We to must stretch to understand the miracle of life all around us. We, too, must allow the Father to led us to the Bread of Life.

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