Deacon Tony reflects: look for what truly satisfies

Our readings today demonstrate God’s great generosity. To those who found the manna and quails in the desert, they were being given sustenance until they reached the Promised Land; this is something which the people in the crowd referred to in their encounter with Jesus in today’s Gospel. But Jesus pointed out to them that it was not Moses who provided their food, but God.

If we remember last week’s Gospel, we heard about Jesus feeding the multitudes with a small boy’s picnic. Jesus gave thanks for the offering, blessed it and broke it to share with more than five thousand men, women and children. The people of Jesus’ time were great ones for looking for signs, in today’s Gospel they ask again for a sign so that they can believe in Jesus. Jesus explains that God provides the signs; God sends the true bread, which gives life to the world. Jesus is the bread of life, He asks us to come to Him and we will never hunger again to believe in Him and we will never thirst.

Bishop Philip has this week sent a message out to the Diocese, he is asking all of us to come back to Church. In this Year of the Eucharist, he is saying that our hunger for God cannot be fully satisfied by watching online, he is asking us to respond to the message of today’s Gospel which is to ‘come to Jesus’. Our fantastic volunteers have worked tirelessly throughout to make our churches safe for everyone to come back.

Come back and take your rightful place in the Body of Christ, we are not complete without you.

During the first Lockdown I was extremely disappointed to be kept away from Church, I was comforted by the fact that I could still watch Mass online and join in with the prayers; getting to know the prayer for Spiritual Communion was helpful, but even that did not satisfy. I have heard many people say since we were all allowed back how much the time away had made them realise how much they missed receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

I know that some people are too frail to return to Mass; and we must all keep them in our prayers; but for many that are able to come back, ask yourself are you making the same effort to return to Mass as you are, for example, to make a booking for a meal out? NOW is the time to make the effort to return, we miss all of you and look forward to welcoming you back.

In St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we are reminded that as Christians, we are expected to live our lives in a certain way. We are not to live as the ‘pagans live’. As Christians we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19), so we are to guard against our mind being ‘corrupted by illusory desires’ (deceptive or unreal). Instead, we are to trust in Jesus; immerse ourselves in the Word of God; allow our ‘minds to be renewed by a spiritual revolution’, and live fully as the new beings our Baptism created us to be living a life of ‘goodness and holiness of the truth’.

This can only be achieved through Jesus, He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no-one can reach God except through Him. We do this by listening to the Word of God and receiving the Bread of Life at Mass, by studying and reflecting on the Word of God, between Masses and by putting what we have learned and what we have received into action in our everyday lives.

The message from Jesus today is that we are to look for what truly satisfies, today’s world seems to be more about instant gratification rather than taking a long-term view. Jesus says why look for bread that leaves you hungry or water which will leave you thirsting for more. He is the true bread that satisfies. I often read the words of another deacon from Scotland, Deacon Bill McMillan, this week he tweeted “Constantly seeking the stimulation of new things in our lives can be symptoms of hunger not physical but spiritual in nature. That hunger in the heart of all of us is God in Christ, who is present in the Eucharist as bread of life, willing to satisfy our deepest hunger.”1

Does how you satisfy your cravings leave you looking for more? Are you constantly looking for something different? Turn to Jesus, Jesus has enough to satisfy the deepest hunger – remember his words “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.”

Raniero Cantalamessa, who has been preacher to the Papal Household for the past 3 popes, sums up the importance of the Eucharist, when he said “the Eucharist is present in the entire history of salvation”. He supports this by saying “it is present in the Old Testament as a figure, in the New Testament as an event, and in our own time of the Church, as a sacrament. The figure anticipates and prepares the event, the sacrament ‘prolongs’ the event and actualises it.”2

‘One bread, one body, one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless. And we though many, throughout the earth, we are one Body, in this One Lord’.3

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 1333-1336: Eucharistic signs of bread and wine
CCC 1691-1696: life in Christ

The Eucharist Our Sanctification – Raniero Cantalamessa

Please keep in your prayers

  • Anthony Fyk and Paul Nwune who are being Ordained as priests for our Diocese this weekend; James Lewis who is being ordained as a deacon at the same Mass; and Stephen Opoku-Anokye and Stephen Joseph who are being ordained as Permanent Deacons.
  • 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.
  • 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.

1 Deacon Bill McMillan Twitter @DeaconMcMillan published 31 July 2021 on Twitter.

2 Raniero Cantalamessa, The Eucharist Our Sanctification, (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1993)6.

3 John Foley SJ, Hymns Old and New,(Kevin Mayhew Limited, Stowmarket, Suffolk, 1989)744.