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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

1st Reading (1Kgs 19:4-8): Elijah went a day's journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: «This is enough, o Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers». He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, «Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!». He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.
Responsorial Psalm: 33
R/. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the Lord; the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy. And your faces may not blush with shame. When the afflicted man called out, the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. Taste and see how good the Lord is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
2nd Reading (Eph 4:30—5:2): Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 6:51): Alleluia. I am the living bread that came down from heaven, says the Lord; whoever eats this bread will live forever. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 6,41-51): The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

«No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him»

Fr. Lluc TORCAL Monk of Santa Maria de Poblet (Santa Maria de Poblet, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel shows how disconcerted Jesus' countrymen were when in his presence: “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (Jn 6:42). The life of Jesus amongst his own people had been so normal that, when He began to proclaim the Kingdom, those who knew him were shocked at what He was saying.

What Father was Jesus referring to, whom nobody had ever seen before? Which could be that living bread coming from heaven that those who eat of it would live forever? He denied it was the manna in the desert because those who ate it also died. “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51). Could his flesh be food for us? The baffling doubts Jesus was spreading amongst the Jews could also embarrass us should we not be able to answer a question basic for our Christian life: Who is Jesus?

Many men and women before us have asked themselves the same question, have personally answered it, have gone to Jesus, have followed Him and now they enjoy an endless life full of love. And those who now may come to Jesus, He will raise them up on the last day. (cf. Jn 6:44). John Cassian exhorted his monks by telling them: “‘Come close to God, and He will come close to you’, because ‘nobody can come to Jesus unless he is drawn by the Father who sent Him’ (...). In the Gospel we listen to the Lord inviting us to join Him: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Let us embrace the Word of the Gospel that brings us near Jesus every day; let us welcome the invitation of the very Gospel to enter into communion with Him by eating his flesh, because “This is the true food, Christ's flesh, which being Word has become flesh, as it is said ‘And the Word became flesh’” (Origen).