AUGUST 9, 2009: 19TH SUNDAY- 1 K 19:4-8; EPHESIANS 4:30-5:2; JOHN 6:41-51


IS THIS NOT JESUS, THE SON OF JOSEPH? HOW CAN HE CLAIM TO HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN? Saint John who wrote these words was a master of irony. He had answered this question in the opening lines of his Gospel where he declared that “the Word was God” and went on to add that in Jesus “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The error of the Jews who asked this question was to decide too readily that they knew the answer, and so they spoke in protest rather than to seek the true reply to the claim made by Jesus. Accordingly, the Lord reproves them sharply. He goes directly to the basic cause of their unacceptable behavior: they are led by selfish, carnal interest. Right to recognize Jesus’ claim to come down from heaven one must humbly accept the grace of God. Saint Matthew, writing years before John, had already recorded Jesus’ teaching that the true knowledge of his person was not accessible to human perception alone: “Blessed are you, Simon bar Jona, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven.” On this present occasion Jesus showed his critics their errors by point out that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” He emphasized this truth by citing the witness of the prophets to the effect that “They shall all be taught by God.”  Our Lord here refers to the Prophet Isaiah (54:13) as he stresses the need we all have for enlightenment that comes only from a direct intervention by God himself. Understanding this fundamental truth and acting upon it is a condition for recognizing the real identity of Jesus, and so accepting his claim to speak the words of God by virtue of having a personal knowledge of his Father that no other person possesses.


This teaching remains for us today a source of confidence and strength provided we take it into our heart and by prayerful contemplation live by the reality it proclaims. If you and I recognize in Jesus the one who reveals the Father to us, we can be certain that it is because God himself is with us making this faith possible. Of course, our part is so to believe that we live out this faith by the actions and decisions of our lives. As we strive to carry out this program we soon discover how essential the continuing assistance of God to our fidelity.


We can be confident, at the same time that God’s favor will sustain us so long as we allow our self to be taught by Him, and make it our purpose to put his teaching into practice by lives of justice, honesty, and fidelity. Saint Paul in the text we heard at the second reading today, spells out for us the implications of Jesus’ teaching. “ Do not sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed . . . be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving. . . . Be imitators of God as his dear children. Follow the way of love, even as Christ loved you. He gave himself for you.” 


This is the program for life that we are to make our own. Being taught by God himself, through his words and his Church we can be confident that the favor of his grace will sustain us. Just as Elias was sustained by the food and drink supplied by God’s care as he journeyed through the desert, so this Eucharist is offered to us as our sustenance as we pass through the difficult paths of this world.  May each of us here offer and receive this bread from heaven with such faith and desire as to grow in strength that is the fruit of confidence supplied by the Spirit of God to those trust is in the Jesus our Savior. &    

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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