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Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time B

Sunday, 16 August, 2015
John 6:51-58

John 6:51-58

‘The mind grows rich from what it receives, the heart from what it gives’ (Proverb). Through his gift of the bread that comes down from heaven Jesus seeks to form and to transform our minds minds and hearts. He gives much and he asks much. Time is needed to unpack and appreciate the gift that is the Eucharist. The word “eucharist” is a Greek term which translates the Hebrew word “berakah”. For Jesus and the Jewish people of his time the term “berakah” meant an abiding sense of gratitude and appreciation. God had given so much to them, done so much for them, stood by them so consistently, that the only fitting response in faith was “berakah” – we thank you, we praise you, we bless you for all you have done for us. A profound grasp of God’s goodness gave rise to a loving response. In the culture that Jesus knew, faith found expression in gratitude, appreciation and joyful praise. People tried to notice the goodness of life and to acknowledge God as the source of it all. Jesus was educated in such a frame of mind. Through the gift of the bread of life he seeks to form us in that outlook of wonder and amazement at God’s gifts.

At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to his Father. “Berakah” is his response to all of life.
Aware that his closest followers will lose confidence in him and run away, that the future is in the hands of his Father, Jesus prays: “berakah”.
His own people will reject him, twist his words, mock him on Calvary. His response to that is: “berakah”.
He is about to be cut off in the prime of life. He won’t be allowed to carry forward his life’s work. For what has been possible he cries out: “berakah”.
Taking the cup of wine and conscious that his blood was soon to be shed, he has the strength and courage to pray about what is to come and his prayer is: “berakah”.
Jesus had grown into such appreciation of the Father’s loyalty and generosity that “berakah” was his unchanging response. That prayer was the source of his faithful commitment. Nothing could change the things in his life for which he was so grateful. If we manage to grasp the inner dynamic of praise, thanks and blessing actively present in his life then we can begin to understand what it means for ourselves to become Eucharist. At the Last Supper Jesus needed to tap into a story that would give him strength to face his sufferings with a love and graciousness deeper than he had ever known. Passover celebrations gave him purpose and energy. The saving presence of God that was there in the past continues on into the future. The wisdom of experience was that it was in times of great suffering and struggle that God’s people became increasingly certain of God’s commitment to them. It is in the challenges of life that the fuller dimensions of God’s compassion, forgiveness, love and joy deep within us are uncovered. Jesus plumbed those depths. With the help of his living bread, the Eucharist, we too can live life to the full.


For prayer: 

How have I met God in the challenging times of my life ?
Is faith helping me to grow into an abiding sense of appreciation for God’s presence ?