Sunday, August 2, 2015

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - The Bread from Heaven

Dear readers, sorry for this "in your face" message but it is urgent and I do not know any other way to get help.  So far a few have responded, but I still need more generosity. 

Please consider helping my fundraising campaign which will help me maintain and expand this evangelization work.  In about six months, I have to pay the expenses related to this website.  I need your help!

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Again, without your help, I will lose this domain name in six months when the renewal of it is due. If this happens, I will lose access to keywords, search engines and millions of visitors. Moreover, someone else may purchase the domain for malicious purposes in order to attack Catholicism or me by pretending to be me.  Your help can help me keep this going and expand it, especially the radio podcast subscription.  With it I can speak more, have guests and take calls on the air live.

Our world is becoming more and more secular and without strong Catholic voices online, then it will continue to grow and push back all that Christianity has done in order to build the West.  As you may know, atheism thrives online.  On the internet, atheists can create blogs and other social networks which they use to promote their misconceptions. This draws in naive youth who read these blogs and buy into the rhetoric. We must stop this by having online evangelization work done just like which is a source for those of faith and no faith to get clear answers to the questions and claims regarding atheism.

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God will repay you for you help.  I promise to remember at Mass, Liturgy of Hours and private prayer all of those people who have helped me keep this evangelization work alive.

Last week we read of the multiplication of bread (see: which set up the introduction to the 'Bread from Heaven.'  Who is this 'Bread from Heaven?" Well, we are about to learn in today's Gospel. It begins with an introduction to this bread in the Old Testament.

In the first reading, we are told of the story of the Hebrews fresh out of Egypt.  They begin to complain to Moses while in the desert. Despite seeing the wonder's of God, they are more concerned with food and the comforts of life (Numbers 20:13, Exodus 17:7, Psalm 95:8).  The Hebrews whine, "...You had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!"  We too always complain to God about every little thing. When things seem to go wrong we complain and even blame God. While we may not go into a literal desert, we when becoming Christians follow Christ into the desert where temptation comes to try to knock us down (Hosea 2:14, Ezekiel 20:35, Matthew 4:1-11).

The hardships of this spiritual desert often force us to crack, so to speak. We may begin to doubt God when things seem to have stopped in regards to feeling God's presence or observing His wonders in our lives. This is true especially when our physical needs start crying out for our attention. We become more focused on natural needs rather than spiritual ones. How many of us work on Sundays because we "need the money?" Our ancient spiritual ancestors were the same. God rescued them from Egypt and slavery in a dramatic fashion with signs and wonders, yet here they are whining about not having their fleshpots and fill of bread (Psalm 105:43). In the Gospel, we will see the same. The people were more concerned about getting fish and bread and were not concerned for Christ.  Not even the wonders that Christ performed had any significance for these people.

Anyhow, God feeds His people despite their whining. He rains down manna. Scholars debate on what exactly 'manna' was.  Some believe it was a seed or Spharothallia esculenta which could be used with other ingredients to make a form of bread. These all seem to match the descriptions given in Exodus in regards to appearing in the dew as flakes or hoarfrost.  In any event, Moses tells the people that this was the bread God has given them to eat.  This brings us to the responsorial Psalm.

Today's responsorial Psalm tells us that "The Lord gave them bread from heaven."  The Psalm recalls this event in Exodus and how God provided for the people.  The skies opened at His command and manna rained upon the Hebrews as food for them.  This food was the heavenly bread; the bread of the angels, so to speak (Wisdom 16:20).  We too were given the bread from heaven, the true manna who is Jesus. Because of this, we must no longer live like Gentiles as we shall read in today's second reading.

The second reading tells us that we must live as new people, not like the Gentiles or those who were not part of the people of God.  We must put away our old selves and the way we have lived before dedicating our lives to Christ.  Instead, we must put on a new self using Christ as an example (Luke 5:37).  What good is it to believe in Christ, do what the Catholic Church asks of us and at the same time behave like we have no sense at all? This would be hypocritical. It is important for us to change and live totally as God wants us to live.  We must realize that conversion is a process. Holiness is a mission that may take a lifetime to achieve.  We must have the true bread from heaven, Jesus the Word of God in us (John 1:1). Regular bread will not sustain us (Wisdom 16:26, Matthew 4:4).

In today's Gospel, the crowds came looking for Jesus in Capernaum. They were searching for Him even asking Him how did He get there.  Jesus knew their intention.  They saw Him as a government welfare line of sort.  He would provide bread and fish to them free of charge.  All they had to do was sit and wait similarly to today's situation with people getting on line to get government cheese and so forth.  Like with the ancient Hebrews in the time of Moses, these people before Christ did not care for the signs and wonders.  They just wanted their needs met.  Jesus tells them not to work for food that perishes, but for that food which lasts eternally.  He tells them the Son of Man would give them this food.  Jesus reminds them that Moses did not give the ancestors the bread from heaven, God does.

This bread from heaven gives life to the world.  The people want this bread and Jesus tells them that He is the bread of life (John 6:51).  Those who come to Him will never get hungry or will never thirst.  The events regarding the Exodus and the manna was a foreshadowing of Jesus as the bread of life.  Jesus is the bread of life (Matthew 26:26, 1 Corinthians 11:24).  He is present in the Holy Eucharist waiting for us to receive Him in Holy Communion or during adoration. He remains with us until the end of time under the form of bread and wine at Mass and in a monstrance, ciborium or pyx (Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 11:27).  We must work for this bread.  Jesus is the food that lasts eternally and truly nourishes.

Let us not be like the Hebrews of the past and those Israelites in Jesus' time who were more concerned about material needs than seeking God.  Let us not whine and complain when things seem to go wrong (Philippians 2:14). We must go into the desert God leads us to and must accept the cross we must carry (Philippians 4:11-12, Luke 14:27).  God feeds us with the bread from heaven as we walk in this desert of life.  God cares for us and we have no need to become despondent in regards to our spiritual or even material needs (James 1:6, Luke 12:24, Matthew 6:31-32) .  God always provides (Psalms 34:10, Job 38:41).  May Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist in every Catholic Church and chapel around the world be praised.


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