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18th Sunday in Ordinary Time B


I have just finished watching the third season of the TV series, “The Tudors.”  The Tudors portray the life of King Henry VIII, the controversial monarch who fashioned his own church after the pope refused to grant him a divorce.  The series showed how many people who surrounded the king manipulated the king in their own desire for power.  By a stroke of luck, the king later learned of these machinations and one by one, those who tried to manipulate him were discovered, prosecuted and killed.  They have been influential on the king for a time, but they paid dearly for it in the end.

“You should not work for perishable food.” How many times the world has turned a deaf ear to these words of biblical wisdom, the vey counsel of the Lord.  People through the ages have worked for food that will never last.  For some the food is money and they hoard money and wealth only to realize they cannot carry it to their grave.  For others food is power, and they become intoxicated with power only to realize in the end that they are alienated from others and even from themselves.  For some it is success and they will do everything to gain success even at the cost of losing friends.

The gospel continues last week’s account of the multiplication of bread and fish. The people are now satisfied and they sought out Jesus not because they understood the meaning of the miracle of bread but because they thought Jesus would bring an end to grumbling stomachs and starving bodies.  Jesus explains that these material benefits do not last. If all they were interested in is mundane and earthly, then our lives will never find its real direction.

In the gospel, Jesus points to the real meaning of the miracle.  It is not the bread alone, but God’s presence in and through the bread that gives life.  Here He was referring to the Eucharist.  The Eucharist helps us to see deeper into things because it challenges us to find God in the bread and wine today and the challenge this brings to our daily life.

Do you see this miracle happening in your life as you attend the Eucharist every Sunday?  Do you perceive a challenge happening in your life as you celebrate the Eucharist for yourself and for others?

If I go to Mass thinking that my prayer is only a private matter between me and God and does not bring me closer to others, then I am mistaken.  If I go to Mass as a social gathering where I can be with friends but not have a deepened relationship with Christ, then I am lost.  If I go to Mass out of fear or tradition rather than discovering a guide for life, I am missing something essential.

At Mass, Jesus is present in the Bread and Wine.  And we come to receive Him so that our life may attain its goal.  It is the Bread that brings us to heaven.  But it is also the Bread that makes us live with and for others in peace and justice. That is what we mean by the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist – not a mere call for devotion but a real impulse to find deeper meaning. That is why the Eucharist is really the food that last forever. Power, money and success perish but in the Eucharist, we have a food that lasts.