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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reflection 2020-04-30 Thursday 3rd Week of Easter

Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66; John 6:44-51
Jesus said yesterday whoever comes to me will never be hungry. Today’s Gospel tells us how to come to Jesus. He said: no one can come to me unless drawn by my Father who sent me. Coming to Jesus is a grace. It is a gift and not a reward. It is the Father who draws us to Jesus. That desire to know God is not from us, but it is a gift from God. Jesus says it is written in the prophets: “And they shall all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Coming to Jesus is possible only when we:
  1. Hear the Father. This implies we listen to what the Father says. We do not listen to what news commentators say or what false prophets say. We listen to the Father through Jesus.
  2. Learn from the Father. It is not enough to hear what the Father says. We need to learn what he says. This means we need to reflect, to digest and make it our own, to let is seep into our lives so we live it. Obedience is the result of learning from the Father. It is accepting the teaching of the Father through Jesus, even if it is difficult, even if I do not agree with it.
This is what the First Reading shows us. An angel told Philip to go down from Jerusalem to Gaza. Without knowing why, Philip obeyed. This is the first mark of someone who hears and learns from the Father: obedience. When Philip say the Ethiopian, the Spirit told him to approach the Ethiopian. So Philip did and began a conversation with the Ethiopian and explained the Scripture the Ethiopian was reading. The Ethiopian heard the teaching and learned from it, which him to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Learning from the Father shows us who Jesus is: the Son of God. It is to believe that what Jesus says is true.
So when Jesus continues and says Very truly, I tell you, we know he speaks on his own authority and we need to hear and learn. And when he says whoever believes has eternal life this means we need to believe, to trust, to accept everything he says. So when he says I am the bread of life… this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die he means we need to eat this bread of life. Today’s Gospel Reading ends with: I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Jesus identifies himself as the LIVING bread from heaven. Then he says whoever eats of this bread will live forever. He speaks of eating the bread to live forever. Now comes the key statement: and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
The question now is: if Jesus refers to himself as the Living bread we have to eat, then he will not have to give another bread. Yet he said the bread that I will give.
This means there is another form of bread he is giving. Jesus is literally, giving another Bread which is his flesh. This proves the Bread Jesus refers here is the Bread we receive in Holy Communion. It IS the Bread of Life, the Living Bread, it is the FLESH of Jesus! If Jesus meant this figuratively, he would not have said he will give THE BREAD. But here, he clearly said, on his own authority, he will give THE BREAD for the life of the world, is MY FLESH.
The Bread we receive and adore IS the Jesus himself! This is why we need to receive it as a gift from the Father. When it comes to our relationship with God, many think it is a right. If I think reception of Holy Communion is a right, then I have to repent seriously. If I think I can receive communion in the state of mortal sin, I need to repent quickly. Jesus said, we come to him when the Father draws us to Jesus. How can I come to Jesus when I have rejected him? I cannot receive the bread of life if I reject God, because I am dead! Just as medicine has no effect on a corpse, receiving the Body of Jesus in the state of mortal sin will not do me good.
Today, the Father is drawing you to Jesus. Come to Jesus so he can raise you up. If you have received Jesus in a state of mortal sin, repent and turn back to Jesus. There is no sin Jesus cannot forgive. Turn back to him, go to confession if you can, even in this state of lock down.
Lord Jesus, your Father has drawn me to you and here I am. I want to hear your Father’s voice. I want to learn from the Father so I can come to you. I have rejected you and disrespected your Body. I have neglected you for a long time. Yet Lord, you said, you will not cast out those who come to you. Here I am. Take me and heal me. Forgive me and make me whole. In Jesus’ name I pray.

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