Deacon Tony reflects: Live as Jesus wants us to live

If last Sunday had not ben the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then we would have continued with the Gospel of John Chapter 6, where Jesus stated that anyone who eats the bread that He will give will live forever and the bread that He shall give is his flesh for the life of the world. Today’s Gospel picks up at this point and whereas we normally have the Jews as those who remonstrate against the teaching of Jesus, notice that this time we have ‘the followers of Jesus’ who say “this is intolerable language”.

Jesus, aware of their complaining emphasises that what He is teaching is the truth and declares that some of those among him do not believe. Prompting some of his disciples to leave him. Jesus then turns to the twelve; signifying the New Israel, replacing the twelve tribes; and asks if they would like to leave him too. It is Simon Peter who responds on behalf of the twelve and asks “who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.”

The prophet Joshua, in our first reading offers a similar challenge to the people, offering them the opportunity to choose which god they wish to worship. The response is similar, they choose to worship the God that saved their ancestors, they choose to “serve the Lord, for he is our God.”

Reading the excerpt from the letter from St Paul to the Ephesians in today’s second reading we could get caught up in the patriarchal terms and tone used, however this would distract us from the key message – the relationship between Christ and His Church is one of love and devotion – Jesus loves us, He always has and He always will. In return Jesus asks us to love him and those we encounter. St Paul is telling us that just like in a marriage the husband and wife become one, then when we, as the Church who form the Body of Christ and are betrothed to Jesus as the Head of the Church, when we partake of the Eucharist we become One Body, we share in the divinity of Christ. Therefore as Jesus loves us and is devoted to us, we too must love Jesus and be devoted to Him.

In our diocese, this year is devoted to the Eucharist, we are encouraged to spend time contemplating what the Eucharist means to us. I would like to encourage people to come and spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament; most days in St Bede’s Church the Blessed Sacrament is exposed before the daily Mass.

In that time Jesus cries to us to come and spend time with Him, come and bask in the presence of the Lord. If you are unable to come along physically, then try and get access to view the exposition online, spend that time quietly contemplating the love Jesus has for us all and the devotion He showed for us by lowering himself to become flesh, so that when He rose again to his rightful place we could eat His flesh and drink His blood and become like him. If you don’t have access to the internet still try and find a quiet space in your home, read scriptures and then sit and quietly contemplate, imagine yourself before the tabernacle; sit there and enjoy the peace which come from being close to Jesus either through His Word or His Body.

We are like the people in the first reading and the followers of Jesus in today’s Gospel. The people of Joshua 1300 years before Christ and us 2000 years after the birth of Jesus are united in that we can choose to follow the true God who rescued us. The Israelites forefathers were rescued from slavery in Egypt, and they made the choice to follow God based on the signs God worked and how He rescued them despite their many failings. We have been rescued from the slavery of sin by Jesus conquering death. We can choose to follow the other gods – the world’s way – or to follow Jesus. Will we be like the followers of Jesus who heard Jesus speak, found it difficult to understand, difficult to accept and walk away. Or will we be like Peter and the other apostles, who no doubt found it difficult to hear, difficult to understand as well, but stayed because they had faith in Jesus?

We face this challenge every day when we are tempted to sin, how we respond will affect our eternal future. Do we pick and choose the parts of the Church’s teaching which appeal to us or suit or current desires? If we are in doubt about Church teaching do we try to find out what is correct or do we decide based on what we want to do? I know that in the past I have made decisions, which I am not proud of, which if I had read a little bit more or heard a priest or a deacon speak about at Mass then my decisions would have been different.

As Christians we have an obligation to live as Jesus wants us to live, this means finding out what Jesus taught and not making it up as we go along. When we find ourselves hearing something in the teachings of the Church which we find uncomfortable we need to ask ourselves what is it that disconcerts me? What is it about this that troubles me? Give it some thought, seek out a priest or a religious or even a deacon, ask them to help you understand. Then when you have thought about it, put yourself in the middle of today’s Gospel and imagine Jesus, standing in front of you and saying to you “What about you, do you want to go away too?”

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 796: the Church as the Bride of Christ
CCC 1061-1065: God’s utter fidelity and love
CCC 1612-1617, 2360-2365: marriage in the Lord

Please keep in your prayers

  • Lilliana and Aidan who are being baptised this Sunday, that their parents and godparents will be good role models throughout their lives.
  • The repose of the souls of those who have lost their lives during the recent storms, the comfort of their families and the people who have lost their homes and livelihoods.
  • 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.