By Jeff Hensley Catholic News Service
August 2, Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle B. Readings:
1) Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Psalm 78:3-4, 23-25, 54
2) Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Gospel) John 6:24-35
The Israelites grumbled as they fled Egypt. They wished they were back in captivity, sitting by their stewpots, eating the bread of that land. God had mercy on them and provided quail for meat and manna from the surface of the desert for bread.
When Jesus came, the crowds following him after he multiplied loaves and fishes went with him across the Sea of Galilee in search of more. Miraculously, he provided food. Jesus berates them for looking to him for food instead of something of lasting value.
Someone brings up the example of Moses having provided God’s people with bread from heaven to eat. Jesus corrects them:
“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.”
When they ask for that heavenly bread always, he responds, “I am the bread of life;whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Pattie Watson recently retired from her position as social ministry director at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Fort Worth, Texas. When she first had contact with that ministry’s food pantry, she was estranged from the church. She was so estranged she would not accept help for her family from Franciscan Brother Ed Bennett. She relented only when he told her, “This isn’t charity. This is family helping family, and someday, somehow, you’ll be able to give back.”
In time, her relationship with the church healed, and she became, once again, one of those receiving the bread from heaven that is Jesus.
And in time, she came to accept what she believed was God’s direction to take the job of director of the social services ministry.
She says she came to realize that “it didn’t matter what anybody else did to me. It mattered what I did, and that’s what faith is all about. My faith is strong. It got stronger with every package of food I handed over.”
How have you found your life as a Christian more clearly defined through giving to others?