THE LORD GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN

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We continue to hear from the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John.  In last Sunday’s Gospel, having witnessed the feeding of the 5,000, the people remarked:  “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”  Now, however, they seek some sign as proof of who Jesus is, recalling the incident in today’s First Reading of Moses obtaining bread and meat for the people in the desert.  Jesus reminds them—as Moses himself acknowledged—that it was God and not Moses who had given this food.  Jesus then promises a new bread from heaven:  “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

As we continue to hear from this chapter in the coming weeks, we will see Jesus’ teaching fulfilled in the Eucharist.  In holy communion we receive Jesus as the bread of life.  The manna ceased to be provided by God once the people reached the Promised Land.  Jesus, however, provides us with the eucharistic food for the journey until we reach the promised land of heaven:  “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”  The only “work” we need to do to receive this food is to believe:  “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” (Today’s Gospel)

For some years now the first Sunday in August has been observed as Peace Day in our diocese.  It is observed on this date because of its proximity to the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, which led to the end of World War II.  It is an unfortunate reality of human history that peace comes at a great price, especially in lives lost.  Today we find this to be true again.

Prayer for peace is very ancient, necessary because of the bellicose nature of human beings intent upon subduing “the enemy” who may possess natural resources; more productive land; or simply a different race, culture or religion.  In the liturgy the Communion Rite is full of prayers for peace:  after the Lord’s Prayer, in the Sign of Peace, in the Lamb of God.  The personal exchange of a sign of peace before communion is reflected in the words of the popular hymn:  “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”  The prayer before the Sign of Peace recalls Jesus’ farewell words to his disciples at the Last Supper:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” (John 14:27)  May the prayers for peace, which are so prevalent in the liturgy, be prayed with a little more fervor today.

I enjoyed my vacation at the home farm.  There was a little more rain there and I had to mow the lawn four times.  The vacation came to a disappointing end as I was unable to cut any oats for threshing.  In the field I had hoped to cut the heads did not fill out, so we decided it would be a waste of effort to try to thresh it.  Then I went to another neighbor where I had cut once before, who agreed to let me cut some.  Things started out OK, but then on the second half of the first round we got into some heavy “orchard grass” that first plugged the packing mechanism on the binder.  After that was cleared it plugged up the sickle.  On the next try a link on the chain on the bull wheel broke, which drives the entire machine.  A search back at the home farm did not turn up a compatible link, so I decided then and there that we would give up the enterprise for this year.  My vacation time had run out and that field would have been pretty hard to cut.  We’ll try again next year.  The binder is only 83 years old, so it should have a few good years left.  This is the first time in the last 30+ years that I haven’t had a threshing day.

As we begin this week with the diocesan observance of Peace Day, let us again pray the Rosary for peace throughout the world.  Let us pray for all victims of violent crimes and for the conversion of those who look to violence to achieve their ends.  Pray also for good weather, and for protection from damaging storms and floods.

May God bless his people with peace.

Monsignor Gorman