I had a first experience for me earlier this week, when like thousands of people across the country I was pinged by the NHS app, informing me that I had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid. Going by the dates, and the few days remaining of the self-isolation by the time I received the message, it had been over a week earlier. Thankfully for me, I am double vaccinated, and I had already recorded 2 negative tests at home, I still went for a PCR test at a drive through test centre, which thankfully also came back negative.
While for some this App may be seen as an inconvenience, I am grateful that I was made aware and was given the alert which meant I could stay at home without potentially putting work colleagues or family members at risk. As Christians we are called to love our neighbour, by following the guidelines we are given an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable people in our society, this is one way of putting our Christian love into action. I pray for all who have had positive results that they make swift and full recoveries.
In today’s readings we again visit Chapter 6 of St John’s Gospel; we hear how some of the Jewish people could not accept what Jesus was saying because they thought they knew his heritage. They could not accept that Jesus had come down from heaven, as the true bread which will lead the chosen people to the Eternal Promised Land. Those who were complaining about what Jesus said were given a message which was crucial for them and applies equally to us – “No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me.”
We do not choose God, he has chosen us, our choice is to listen and to respond. The ‘complaining’ by the Jews is similar to the ‘complaining’ by the whole community in Chapter 16 of Exodus, when they complained about being taken out of Egypt and thought they would starve in the desert. God responded by providing manna in the desert. In today’s Gospel we hear God’s response, the true bread of heaven. The Jews took Jesus to be Joseph’s son; right at the start of St John’s Gospel we are told that Jesus is the Word made flesh; sent by the Father to help those who believe in him to become children of God.
In our first reading we are told about Elijah who has fled from his oppressors, he asks God to let him die; he falls asleep, hoping not to wake up again. But when he opens his eyes when he hears an angel speak and God provides a scone for him baked on the hot stones of the desert and a jar of water. He tried to sleep again, but the angel wakes him, insisting that he eats and drinks to build strength for the journey God needs him to make. Strengthened by God’s sustenance, he makes a forty day and night journey to God’s Holy Mountain. There he will meet the Lord, be commissioned and sent out with divine authority to bring some of the Jewish people back to God and anoint kings who would punish those who had deserted God.
Elijah was chosen and miraculously fed so that he could go back to the land where he had been hunted and pronounce God’s word to God’s people. This should make us ask, why has God chosen us? When God feeds us every week with His Word and His Flesh; what does God need us to do? What mission does He have for us? We may never find out the answers to any of these questions, but we need to find some quiet time to think and discern God’s purpose for our lives.
St Paul provides a good insight into every Christian’s calling in the section we hear today from his letter to the Ephesians. As we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit we are to please God, not to cause God any reason to be upset. Forgive those who annoy us, be kind to everyone, keep calm, do not apply labels to our spiritual brothers and sisters. Love one another as Jesus loves us, forgiving one another as readily as God forgives us. St Paul mentions that Jesus gave himself up in our place as a fragrant offering. Holy Church reminds us of the fragrance of Christ’s offering in the sacred oil used as Chrism at our Baptism and Confirmation, if we remember shortly before Christ’s Passion, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet before he would walk the journey of our shame on our behalf; so much so the ‘house was filled with the fragrance of oil’ (John 12:3).
Our mission in life is to fill our world with the fragrance of Christ. Be kind, forgive others, put the love Jesus has for us into action. Feed the hungry, visit the sick, look out for those who have to isolate, clothe the naked, provide drinks to those who are thirsty, comfort those who grieve.
The Coronavirus has brought great distress to people all over the world, but it has also brought out many signs of Christ’s love. There are unsung heroes everywhere, people who have protected the most vulnerable in our society, maybe by doing what others see as simple things like going shopping; but to those who are afraid to go out because of genuine fear for their health; they provide a lifeline. As I said at the beginning, I am one of the lucky ones, I had to self-isolate and I had negative test results. I also had offers of help from a few people, which thankfully I didn’t need to take up. My short spell of self-isolation was a reminder for me that this crisis in our world is not over. There are many people who need help in the world, as Christians we are obliged to help wherever help is needed, we cannot turn a blind eye to this, we will be judged on how we respond, we will be judged on how we love.
The sustenance we receive in the Eucharist provides us with the spiritual energy to take God’s love out into the world, if you like, taking the fragrance of Jesus into a world that is suffering. “Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is happy who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34: 8-9).
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)1
CCC 1341-1344: “Do this in memory of me”
CCC 1384-1390: take and eat: Communion
Please keep in your prayers
- Juan and Keeva who are being baptised this weekend, that their parents and godparents will be good teachers of the faith and excellent role models for their lives.
- Those who are sick, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- Those preparing to return to Mass.
- The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Those who have been unable to receive the Eucharist during the pandemic.
- Those involved in preparing our pastoral area ‘Big event’ on the 4th Sept’ – may it be a wonderful opportunity for our local parishes to come together, enjoy each other’s company and show our love of God and neighbour.