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 days at the home farm. This past Monday, July 26, I was able to cut a field of oats for threshing. Thanks to local farmer Mark Burbach for letting me cut some of his oats. My 92-year-old second cousin James M. Gorman drove the 1941 Farmall H tractor and I rode the 1935 McCormick-Deering grain binder. Visitors who did the shocking included Father Kenneth O’Hotto, a priest classmate of the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese; Larry Scheckel from Tomah, who writes articles about growing up on the farm in The Country Today; Patrick Slaney from Bear Valley; James Gorman’s grandson Logan Gorman; and Mark Burbach. Mark’s wife, Jo, kept the shockers hydrated. I hope to get the bundles loaded up in a couple of weeks and under cover until Threshing Day on September 6, Labor 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.