05 August 201818 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
18 Ordinary Time
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B - John 6:24-35

Three laborers were dragging massive stones. The first was asked by a reporter what he was doing. The reply was terse, "I'm dragging a big stone and it's breaking my back." He put the same query to the second fellow. His reply was, "I'm helping to build a wall and I need your help right now." The journalist politely declined. He moved on to ask the third man. He replied with a smile: "Sir, I'm building a cathedral for God." We are living out our own lives in an epoch in which work has fallen on hard days. It was said of a USA town where they assemble autos: "Never buy a car built there on Fridays or Mondays." On Friday, serious drinking began to salute the opening of the weekend. On Monday, many of the workers, if they came at all, were nursing hangovers. They kept their eyes open with toothpicks. The owners finally closed the plant.

worked as a chaplain with college students. Many of the students matched the work habits and life style of the above auto "craftsmen." Thursday evening began party hearty time on campus. Their weekends were Missing in Action.

Unhappily these work habits touch just about every industry and college in our country. We are talking about a national and, I suspect, international problem. Is this not why so many United States citizens look for products made in Japan? I went car hunting. The first point the salesman made without my query was, "I can tell you, Padre, this car was made in Japan from start to finish and I have the papers to prove it." Incidentally, I drive a Japanese Honda. As Catholics, we have to examine our attitude to work. Are we working for the food which lasts and which gives eternal life as John today suggests? Or are we part of the problem? Are we giving a fair day's work for a fair day's pay? Are we as careful about our job responsibilities as we are about our salary? If negative, we are sinning against justice. And we are talking about confessional matter. God has given each one of us a task and role to do.

"God," said John Newman, "has created me to do Him a definite service. He has committed a work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission." It can be as lofty as a president of a company or as humble as this scribbler. Whatever it be, it is our vocation. Do we look upon this assignment as an onus or a privilege? Stalter sums up this thought in verse. "No matter what my daily chores might be to earn my livelihood, still may I see the real position that I hold is bringing others to the Master's fold." So, as the proverb advises, in a world that couldn't care less, Christians should care more.

Was not this the motivation that prompted the founding of the Young Christian Workers among miners in Belgium by Joseph Cardijn in the 1930s. Its counterpart was begun in France among students. Not surprisingly, it was called the Young Christian Students. Both movements were lauded by Pope Pius XI. The YCW and the YCS have fallen largely into disfavor. And yet there was never a period when we need them more. Perhaps a resurrection is in order for both groups. We need such groups to remind us of Robert Gibson's advice that we should shine like stars in a dark world and that we are keyholes through which others can see God.

Why Be Catholic? by Rohr and Martos bring the same thought to the subject under discussion. They write, "Living the Bible does not mean memorizing Bible passages or attending prayer meetings any more than it means memorizing the catechism...It doesn't mean having the answer and going to church but living the answer and being the Church." The ideal attitude to our work is summed up in a few words of doggerel, "God, where shall I work today? Then He pointed me out a tiny garden and said, `Tend that for me.'" And, if our garden proves to be a bust, think of this thought from Dorothy Day. "Jesus met with apparent failure on the cross. But unless the seed fall into the earth and die, there is no harvest. And why must we see results? Our work is to sow. Another generation will be reaping the harvest." The monk said, "We're not meant to do great things for God, but we are meant to do small things with great love." The composer JS Bach began and ended all his compositions with prayer. We know the result. Should we copy his style?

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
18 Ordinary Time
Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time: Ya Gotta Eat

If you watch a lot of sports, like I do, you probably have seen the newest routine a lot of athletes go through after they make a great play, hit a home run, or whatever. You might have seen the athlete in the dugout, on the side of the field or even on the basketball court start making believe that he or she is eating. I'm not completely sure what they are trying to say, but it must be something that compares their athletic prowess to feeding a beast of prey, like a lion or bear. A while ago a hamburger chain used to advertise that you should go to one of their stores because, after all, "Ya Gotta, Eat." I've always thought that they are saying that no matter how bad their food may be, still it's food, and you have to have food. Sometimes, I see parishioners when I'm doing some food shopping. They might be surprised to see me there, so I'll just say, "Hey, ya gotta eat."

Today's Gospel, the second of our five Sundays on the sixth chapter of John, takes place the day after Jesus had fed the five thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. Some people sought the Lord out, not because they wanted to hear His teaching, but only because they could get some more free food. Jesus used their desire to eat to raise their need to an infinitely higher level. He told them that they seek food that perishes, but that he could give them food that never perishes. They spoke about the manna that God provided in the days of the Exodus, and Jesus told them about the bread the Father gives that is greater than manna. This bread doesn't just satisfy physical hunger, but gives life to the world. They asked for this bread, and Jesus said that he is the bread of life. "Whoever comes to me will never hunger, whoever believes in me will never thirst." We have to eat. If we don't eat, we'll starve to death. We have to eat to maintain our physical lives. We have to eat to maintain our spiritual lives. Jesus himself is the food we need. He is the Bread of Life. We need Him. We need our union with the Lord. We need to let Him guide our ways. We are restless in life. We hunger for more than this life can offer. He gives us what we need. He gives us God. He is God. He gives us the Eucharist. We need to receive communion. The Eucharist is not just one of the many pious practices of our faith. It is the heart of our faith. The Eucharist is our union with Jesus offering Himself to the Father for us. We need the Eucharist as our spiritual food. The Eucharist is the very Body of Christ.

We receive the Bread of Life. The life offered is certainly not life as we usually use the term. It is not referring to physical life. We eat the Bread of Life and die from cancer, heart attacks, accidents, etc. The Life offered is the Life of Christ. It is the spiritual life that we receive at our Baptism and which remains after our physical death. The Bread Jesus gives nourishes this life, helps us grow stronger spiritually and makes us powerful in the battle for the Kingdom of God. So we come before the Lord this and every Sunday, or perhaps for some of us, every day, and we say to the Lord, "Feed me." But do we really want to be fed? The food that God gives demands a total commitment to Him. When we go to communion we are bound by the Presence within us to live His Life in a way that gives evidence of His Life in the world. You see for us committed Catholics, religion is not a sometimes affair, not a once a week happening. For us religion means being bound to Christ. The very word religion comes from the Latin work ligare which means to be bound. Our faith is who we are. We are people bound to Christ. Many people, hopefully none here, but many people will disagree with this. They will say that a person shouldn't take his or her faith too seriously.

Or that decisions should not be based on faith but on what is expedient, pleasurable, etc. There is some of this in each of us. There is that dark part of us that wants to believe that we can put our faith in a corner of our lives, but do not have to let it determine our lives. It is the part of us that longs for the fleshpots of Egypt, even though we know that the price of fleeting pleasure is slavery. Think about that. When we choose pleasure where God is not present, we become slaves to that pleasure. And yet, there is a part of us that goes to Church on Sundays but thinks it is quite alright to get drunk on Fridays. It is that part of us that really does not want to be fed with the Bread of Life. But there is another part of us, hopefully it is the dominating force within us.

This is the part of us that truly wants to grow in the Life of the Lord every day until we die. It is the part that always wants more of Him. It is the part that wants to wake up in His Presence, go about our daily routine in His Presence, and sleep in His Presence. A brilliant Father of the Early Church wrote: "A Christian is not his own master. His time is God's." Do you know who wrote that? St. Ignatius of Antioch, our patron, wrote that before he died. There is a part of us that knows in the core of our being that this is true. It is the part of us that cries out with the people in the Gospel, "Lord, give us this bread always." And He does. And we come to a deeper understanding that there is nothing we can gain in life that has value except that which comes from Jesus and returns to Him. And so we receive communion. We have to eat. We need Jesus. He is the Bread of Life.

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
18 Ordinary Time
Ephesians Week 4: Put Away the Old Man
(August 5, 2018)

Bottom line: Put away the old self corrupted by deceitful desires and put on the new self created in God's way in righteousness.
We've arrived at the midpoint of our summer series on Ephesians. The first week we heard that God calls and predestines us according to his eternal plan. President Lincoln summed it up with these famous words: "As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'". God's plan, as we saw in the second week, involves breaking down the wall of enmity between Jew and Greek. That competition sometimes led to name calling and even violence. Only Jesus can break down the wall of enmity. The early Christians took the best from both Hebrew revelation and Greek rational philosophy.

Last week we entered into the specifics of how God wants us to live: Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received - with patience bearing with one another. We saw the example of Sister Barbara with her symbols - the turtle and the sunflower. As that flower turns toward the sun so we strive to turn toward God: Of you my heart has spoken, seek his face. Doing that enables us to move forward steadily like a turtle - but only if a person is willing to stick out his neck. This ties right in with our theme today: Put away the old self - and put on the new self. Or as we used to say, "Put away the old man." This does not mean send gramps to a nursing home - or get a young pastor (although that might be nice). The problem is the young can be old in St. Paul's sense. Someone - maybe a little cynical - observes this about Millennials: We can learn a lot from them, but they themselves have nothing to learn.* Well, that's extreme. The point is that a person becomes old when he has nothing to learn.

Not all young people feel that way. A book that has gain popularity among young people, especially young men, is Dr. Jordan Peterson's Twelve Rules for Life. I like rule number 9: Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don't. That means to ask questions and listen. It seems few people do that today. We've gotten old. It wasn't that way with Jesus. The Gospel shows Jesus in constant dialogue. He asks questions and fields questions. He proposes puzzles: "My father gives you true bread from heaven." And the people say, "Give us this bread always." Jesus responds next week. In order to hear his answer you have to become a new man. You will need some curiosity.

Paul says put away your old self - corrupted by deceitful desires. The ruler of this world constantly deceives. He invented fake news. Fake news works best if it contains an element of truth. For example, beer is good. The devil says, well, if one beer is good, two are better and best of all is a six-pack! The evil one says: A couple more drinks, a more powerful drug, a new porn site, one more shopping trip - and you'll have peace, no more anxiety. The devil promises peace and delivers misery. Jesus calls for sacrifice and in the end gives real peace: Take up your cross - that burden, that backpack God has placed in your path. That's what Sister Barbara did when she made permanent vows at age 19, then repeated them annually for 65 years. Take up your backpack, whatever it is. Put on the new self - created in God's way of righteousness: not self-righteousness, but right relations with God, with his creation, with others. As Paul will say succinctly: Live in love as Christ loves us. Today's message is simple: Put away the old self corrupted by deceitful desires and put on the new self created in God's way in righteousness.

********** *This is nothing new. As Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." Today the time span has increased: When I was ten...but when I got to be thirty-five. Now it takes twenty-five years for the old man to learn something. Be patient. :)

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
18 Ordinary Time
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Modern

Lectionary 113
This week we hear the second of five consecutive passages from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. When those who are familiar with the Bible hear of this chapter they often think of the so-called "bread of life" discourse and the Eucharist. This beautiful discourse with its Eucharistic imagery is indeed contained in John 6, but much more is found there that can illuminate our understanding of the Eucharist and help us to appreciate that we only receive its benefits fully when we recognize how our hunger for the Lord is "fed" in other ways as well. To begin reflection on this famous text, we note that the opening of John's sixth chapter features the multiplication of the loaves, the only miracle reported in all four gospels.

This episode reminds us that in a basic and essential sense, God provides for all our needs, and in this particular instance Jesus provides directly for the need for physical nourishment. Here we see God's compassion manifested in a simple but powerful gesture. The abundance of God's generosity forecast in the first reading from Exodus with its account of the manna in the desert is seen here in its fullness. Next in John 6 Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee, demonstrating his sovereignty over the created order and all that is part of it. Afterward, awed by his multiplication of the loaves some disciples run up to him breathlessly, yet Jesus warns them, saying: "you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled." He concludes: "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life" (John 6:26, 27).

Thus far Jesus has literally fed his followers to save them from physical hunger, and then taught them that there is a more profound kind of "food" that he has to offer, which is far more important than bodily nourishment. Next he proceeds to clarify that it was God, not Moses, who fed their ancestors with manna in the desert: "it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (6:32-33). Jesus then reveals that it is he himself who has been sent by God to be the definitive "bread" for the world, far surpassing the manna which the Israelites ate in the days of Exodus: "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst" (6:35).

This "bread of life" comes to Jesus' disciples first in the form of his very person and teaching?every aspect of his person and being, every element of the way he lives, and everything that he teaches makes up this "bread" which is needed by all Christians. Although it happens in a different manner we are nourished as surely by our prayerful study of God's sacred Word in the scriptures as we are by receiving the Eucharist. In the section of John's sixth chapter which we will hear next week, murmuring ensues among Jesus' hearers as they dispute about how he could possibly have "come down from heaven" since they recall "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?" (6:42).

Further murmuring will break out over their misunderstanding of the sacramental language Jesus uses when he states: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (6:51). We will continue this exploration of the ways the Lord nourishes his people, including through the Eucharist, in the reflection on the twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
18 Ordinary Time
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last Sunday in our Gospel reading we heard about the Feeding of the Five Thousand and we came to the conclusion that it is a miracle which is closely linked to the Eucharist. After the people were fed Jesus withdrew from them to the hills because he realised that they would want to make him King even though his time was not yet ready. The disciples wait around a bit and then not finding Jesus they decide to cross the lake by boat. As they were sailing across and the sea was beginning to get a bit choppy Jesus miraculously comes walking towards them across the water.

The text today picks up the story when the people realise that Jesus must have crossed the lake and so they also get into boats and go to the other side. When they eventually meet up with Jesus they question how he got there but he deflects their questioning by stating that they came not because of the signs he had performed but because they had eaten of the bread he had given them. Jesus then goes on to teach them a little about the Eucharist. He begins by telling them that the bread that he gives them endures to eternal life. We get the first part of his teaching on the Eucharist as our Gospel for this Sunday and then it continues in the Gospels set for the following two weeks.

In tIn the part of the teaching provided for our consideration this Sunday Jesus makes explicit the link between the Eucharist and the Manna that Moses gave the Chosen People in the desert. Manna was a gift from God to sustain his people on their long pilgrimage through the desert. The editors of the Lectionary in our First Reading today give us an account of how God provided for his people by means of Manna during that great journey. Recounting this episode from the history of Israel helps us to see the long story of how God used bread as one of the means to bring his people salvation. In his discussion with the people Jesus points out to them that the Eucharist gives life to the world. Of course, the people do not really understand what he is talking about since the Last Supper has not yet taken place and the celebration of the Eucharist as such is unknown to them. Nevertheless, we see that Jesus is preparing the ground. He is, most importantly, also preparing his disciples to understand the significance of the Last Supper so that when it eventually takes place they will understand it's purpose. We were told that five thousand men sat down to eat the bread and fish that Jesus had multiplied but it can hardly have been five thousand people who crossed the lake that day.

They would have needed far more boats than would have been available. Also, we note the careful questioning of Jesus by those who made the crossing. We can conclude therefore that these were not ordinary people but were more likely to be the leaders of the people. Jesus invites them to believe in him because he has been sent by God. His interrogators immediately ask for a sign in order that they might believe in him. But it is obvious to any reader that Jesus has only the previous day performed the extraordinary miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Clearly they are not to be trusted since they ask for another sign as if the one performed the day before was somehow insufficient. These people are not going to be satisfied by any number of marvels. They witness a great miracle and then the very next day ask for another before they will believe in Jesus. Clearly, they have another agenda; it is obvious that they want to trick Jesus. They ask for more miracles hoping that Jesus will somehow make a mistake and expose himself as a trickster and a fraud. Jesus doesn't give them any more miracles. What he does do is point them towards heaven. He tells them that it wasn't Moses who gave their ancestors bread but ‘my Father in heaven.' He tells them that he is himself the bread that gives life to the world.

Jesus is speaking here about a very deep mystery and it is obvious that they do not understand him. But, of course, his words are also addressed to his disciples and to us. We understand perfectly well what he meant. We know that in the Eucharist we receive Christ himself hidden under the form of bread and wine. Of course, not even all Christians believe what we believe about the Eucharist. Many Christian denominations simply do not accept the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They think that Christ is only present in a sort of symbolic way. They suggest that the bread and the wine might represent Christ but they are not really part of him. We, however, believe that when Jesus says ‘I am the Bread of Life' he literally means that he is present to us when we receive the Eucharistic elements. In the words of the Catechism we believe that he is present to us ‘body and blood, soul and divinity.'/>
This deep understanding of the Eucharist is absolutely central to our faith.

It is the bedrock of our belief. In the Eucharist we know we are fed spiritually and become part of Christ's body here on earth. We know that it is the Eucharist that binds us in unity. We appreciate that in the Eucharist we experience the ‘foretaste and promise' of the banquet of heaven. When the people ask Jesus what must they do to be in conformity with the Father he gives them a very simple answer: ‘You must believe in the one he has sent.' We must believe in the person of Jesus, we must believe that he is the Son of God and we must believe in the content of his teaching. We can't pick and choose this bit of teaching or that. No, we need to believe in the whole content of his teaching. And clearly a very important element of his teaching is what he tells us about the Eucharist. It is vital for us to get this right, to believe that Jesus comes to us in the closest and most intimate way possible in the Eucharist. As Jesus says in the very last sentence of today's Gospel text: ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.'

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