August 5th 2018

Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family and Sacred Heart
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

N.B. There will be no further Online Newsletters in August. Publication will resume in September

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This Sunday's Readings

First Reading               Exodus 16:2-4.12-15

The whole community of the sons of Israel began to complain against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness and said to them, 'Why did we not die at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we were able to sit down to pans of meat and could eat bread to our heart's content! As it is, you have brought us to this wilderness to starve this whole company to death!'

Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Now I will rain down bread for you from the heavens. Each day the people are to go out and gather the day's portion; I propose to test them in this way to see whether they will follow my law or not.

'I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel. Say this to them, "Between the two evenings you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have bread to your heart's content. Then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.'"

And so it came about: quails flew up in the evening, and they covered the camp; in the morning there was a coating of dew all round the camp. When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When they saw this, the sons of Israel said to one another, 'What is that?' not knowing what it was. 'That' said Moses to them 'is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.'



Second Reading          Ephesians 4:17.20-24

I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live. Now that is hardly the way you have learnt from Christ, unless you failed to hear him properly when you were taught what the truth is in Jesus. You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God's way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth.



Gospel Reading            John    6:24-35

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, Rabbi, when did you come here?'

Jesus answered: 'I tell you most solemnly, you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat. Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you, for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.'

Then they said to him, 'What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?' Jesus gave them this answer, 'This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.' So they said, 'What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' Jesus answered: 'I tell you most solemnly, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven, it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven, the true bread; for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. '

'Sir,' they said 'give us that bread always.' Jesus answered: 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.'


Sunday Reflection 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (05.08.18)

Searching For ……

A search, intentional or subconscious, is a response to a sense of incompleteness, that something is missing. With hindsight, life can be viewed as a semi-continuous search that commences soon after birth. Some searches are of the moment, such as a search for food to quell hunger. Others may last while awaiting fulfilment, such as sporting quests, that nevertheless demand daily self-application. At other times, the ultimate objective of a search may only become clear when the person searching discovers that previously identified and achieved objectives, perhaps once considered as the goal to be achieved, actually fail to deliver the expected satisfaction. An example would be the acquisition of money.

This 18th Sunday's First Reading (Exodus 16: 2-4, 12-15) tells of the disgruntlement that percolated amongst the Jews whom God had freed from slavery in Egypt. Moses had led them out of their repressive existence with some food for their desert trek. Once that food was exhausted, the grumbling began and much of it was vented at Moses. He, in turn, appealed to God. Today's extract tells of the daily search that God required of his people.

Searches can be exhausting, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Joseph, his foster-father, must have found their three-day search for the twelve-year-old Jesus triply exhausting (Luke 2: 42-48). The motivation that kept them searching was love, their love for Jesus, their love for God and their love for one another.

Love is not the only motivation for searching. Envy, pride, hatred, laziness and greed are just some of the other powerful motors that engage people in searches. In this Sunday's Gospel (John 6:24-35) Jesus identified, for the crowds pursuing him, their true motivation for tracking him down. We are not told whether the crowd appreciated hearing that home-truth. But free, unrestricted, good quality bread must have played a part in the search by people whose daily life was trapped in poverty and shortages.

Jesus was not finding fault with the people for wanting more free, good bread. Rather, He was encouraging them to identify, for themselves, their true motivation. If they, then, were or we, now, are to reach out for the higher truth that Jesus identifies, there must be an acknowledgement that earlier motivations may have been inadequate. Untruth or partial or half-truth impedes a search for the Truth. Anything less than the Truth contaminates a person's motives and the clarity of their vision. Contamination of vision is Satan's preferred arena of deception where he, the ringmaster of falsehood, reigns … for now. One of the clearest and most poignant examples of this is the dialogue between Satan and an exhausted Jesus, in the wilderness - Matthew 4:1-11. If you had the time it would be good to read it meditatively, now.

Satan first plays on Jesus' hunger: "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Hunger, felt in so many different and challenging ways, can fire our searches. Satan never denies that we have multifaceted hunger. His deception is to sell us short on satisfying our hungers. He seeks to undermine us by inveigling us to compromise with the Truth. Satan's dialogue with Eve - Genesis 3:1-7 - is a classic example.

While we cannot turn stones into appetising bread, Satan knew that Jesus could do so. Though Matthew doesn't tell us, I often think that, along with the words of temptation, Satan probably filled the arid emptiness of the desert with an overwhelming smell of warm, fresh from the wood-fired oven, handmade bread. Satan is an expert in manipulating every hunger we experience. He moulds his approach to resonate with the weaknesses that lurk within us and to which he knows we are so susceptible.

In Chapter 6 of his Gospel, St. John brings together all Jesus' teaching on his Real Presence in The Eucharist. This is the second of five consecutive Sundays when we hear extracts from Chapter 6. The responses of the people to Jesus, at that time, shows us how mired in doubt and confusion the human conscience and heart can become when Evil is at work. If you have ever experienced quicksand or glutinous deep mud you will know how innocent it looks before you step in it. Then, with horrifying speed, you discover how treacherous it is, how it can hold you prisoner.

'Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: "He gave them bread from heaven to eat." What sign can you give that we may see and believe in you?' the crowds asked Jesus.
Despite all that Moses had relayed of God's word to the people on that 'Passover' pilgrimage, here were their successors, the people of Jesus' day, understanding that it was Moses, not God directly, who had miraculously fed and watered their ancestors in the desert not once but daily and over a forty-year period. Satan does not contradict self-evident facts. He is, however, skilled in persuading the unwary, perhaps those who have allowed him to tempt them away from God to some degree, to view matters more from his (Satan's) perspective than God's.
So, when the crowds heard Jesus say:
"My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
they responded: "Sir, give us this bread always."

To them, 'Bread from heaven' meant release from the arduous work of coaxing poor land to yield poor quality wheat for the backbreaking work of dough making and baking. Did they even hear Jesus' response?:
"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."

Satan's devilish cleverness lies in never denying what is evident. Instead, he clouds the evidence with palatable, dangerously deceptive falsehood as evidenced in the previously referred to dialogue between Satan and Eve in the Garden of Eden - Genesis 3:1-6.

Daily life in this land of exile involves a continuous search for the Truth. Our first parents, prior to their disobedience, had peacefully enjoyed the Truth that was Eden. Satan has turned the urgency and seriousness of many peoples' daily search into a debilitating, potentially soul-destroying, game / competition for many. For countless more, who are labelled migrants, he has made each day's terrifying search a matter of basic survival.

Nowadays, we make daily use of search engines on all internet devices. At the touch of a button or screen we can bring before us more information than the mind can comfortably absorb. This vast array is both dazzling and addictive. It can make surreptitious inroads into our free will tricking us into believing that we have to be connected to the internet without our having given a true measure of consent. We just pressed a button or we allowed someone else to do it for us!

In his day Jesus did not lose heart nor must we in ours. He foresaw that those who heard him, though as yet unprepared for the greater search that now awaited them, could be rescued from Satan's deception. His mission was to make that rescue possible. Our mission, which we took on at our Baptism and affirmed at our Confirmation, is to support Jesus' mission each day by searching how best to align our will with His.
"Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."