The reading from Old Testament, 2 Kings, and the Gospel both described miraculous multiplications of bread that nourishes the people – such a small offering – a couple of barley loaves – yielding such tremendous results, feeding thousands upon thousands. Truly miraculous…but what effect did it have on the people who were fed? The gospel reading is just the first part of The Gospel According to John, Chapter 6 – over the following four weeks, we will read the remainder of that chapter in its entirety. We can actually take a peek ahead and answer the question. The recipients of that wondrous bread – well, they wanted more. They wanted to make Jesus king so they would always have bread. Jesus will keep trying to explain to them the meaning and the implications on what has just happened, but once they figure out that Jesus’ meaning is Eucharistic… well, they walk away. I guess it would be fair to say the whole thing did not have the effect Jesus wanted.
Seems like a fair question to ask of ourselves: is the Eucharist having the effects in our lives that Jesus wants? It is a question to ask of we who come weekly – and for some daily – who come to receive the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation. Does it have an effect on you? Does it change your life? Do you give change a chance? Are you prepared to cooperate with the grace of the Eucharist that is trying to effect in your life? Have you come here this morning with something in mind, something which calls for the grace of God to help make changes? Have you….. well, heck there are lots of questions like that… I think you get the point.
We are people who are called to be Eucharistic people, called to wrestled with what it means to fully become and be Eucharistic people. To be a people who begin by believing that we indeed receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Next step – come forward and when the priest or EM says “The Body of Christ” – “The Blood of Christ,” you respond “Amen” – a way of saying “I believe.” Then comes the hard part – in receiving and believing, as St. Augustine wrote, be ready to see what you are called to be, and to become what you see.
Receiving the Eucharist is an opportunity for renewal, change, new directions, and more. But please don’t come with magical thinking: “All I have to do is just received…. And everything will be better …. I’ll be fixed, changed, all my bad habits will drop away, I will no longer be tempted….” Sorry – all those things will still be there. But… but… you will have received a fountain fullness of grace, full and overflowing. Grace to help get you where you want to go in your spiritual life, in your life in the world. Have you thought about where that is? That is part of seeing what you are called to be and becoming what you see.
If you haven’t thought about it, if you don’t have a vision in mind, if you aren’t engaging the question, why would you expect any change? But maybe there is some practical help. Our second reading contains an encouragement and a challenge
“Brothers and sisters: I […] urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
And it gives some guidance on the goal: [to live] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: [to be of ] one body and one Spirit, [because there is but] one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.”
Pick one of those admonitions: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, or preserving unity though peace.
I think each one of here can take a moment and easily make a list of people in our lives – family, friends, co-workers, clients, etc. – people whose behaviors grate at our sense of peace, people who are fingernails on the chalkboard of our lives. Perhaps they are people with whom we have had a falling out. I’ll pause here and we can all give it some thought…..
Pick one of those people and dedicate this Eucharist to them and your relationship to them. That through the grace of God you will love and live in a manner worthy of the call you have received. That you will discern how to be humble, gentle, patient, and bear all things in love. Make that situation, that person, that “whatever” the focus of your prayer, your discernment, part of the path to your becoming a more Eucharistic person. There is more than enough grace to feed you for the week of spiritual endeavors – with plenty left over.
And next week – maybe because of the grace of God there was some success – maybe there is still some work to do on this one small goal. But don’t be like the people of the gospel that will eventually walk away. Come on back next week, to discern and prepare for the next celebration of Eucharist. Come with a little clear vision of what you would ask from God, with what lies along the path of becoming that Eucharistic person you are called to be. Come and be fed. Come and be changed.