Deacon Cornellís Homily


Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24 Gospel:
John 6:24-35


August 1-2, 2015 Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

Eight year old Billy came home from his friend's birthday party. His Mom asked him, "Billy did you thank Mrs. Murphy for the party?" Billy replied, "I was going to but Janie was ahead of me and when she said thank you to Mrs. Murphy for the party, Mrs. Murphy told her not to mention it. So I didn't."

One of the commentators I read this week pointed out a very significant thing that is missing from both our first reading and the Gospel passage we just heard. No one says thanks. The Israelites who were fed in the desert with manna and also with meat do not thank God or Moses. In fact the next chapter after this story of the quail and the manna starts out with the Israelites grumbling again, this time about the lack of water. And on our Gospel reading, this whole crowd who sailed across the sea of Galilee to seek out Jesus were part of the thousands that Jesus had just fed with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes as we heard last week. Do they offer thanks to Jesus? No, they want to know if he can give them more food. In fact it goes even deeper than that. The clue is in the last line of last week's reading that Jesus knew that they wanted to make him king. Kings in those days were also military commanders who led their armies into battle. Can you imagine what an advantage it would be to have a military leader who could feed thousands of troops with a few loaves and fishes? So Jesus calls them on it, and starts teaching them the true meaning of what they experienced.

We are in the second of five weeks listening to Chapter 6 of John's Gospel in the middle of year B which is mostly Mark. This chapter, starting especially with today's verses is called the Bread of Life discourse. It is John's equivalent to the institution story of the Eucharist in the 3 synoptic Gospels. As is evident in Jesus words and from the evangelists, we see both in the Exodus story of the manna and fowls from heaven and in the feeding of the 5 thousand in the Gospel a clear prefiguring of the Eucharist. Eucharist: the very word means thanksgiving. If we only truly believed what we profess to believe about Eucharist as Catholics, then there is only one proper response: to be thankful.

True gratitude requires that first, we appreciate the gift; not just that there was a gift but what its value is and what love it is given with; and then secondly, it requires that we recognize that even when the gift is freely given, the love with which it is given calls out for a response. And not just a response in words. It requires a response that let's the giver know that we truly believe that the giver loves us. That is what Jesus means when He tells us that the proper response to the gift of Jesus is to believe in him. Not with our heads but with our whole lives. The belief that Jesus is talking about is belief that changes the way we live our lives. I'll give a mundane example of what I mean. This week you could tell who believed Tom Brady and who didn't. The people who showed up at the opening of training camp with their signs and cheers and support showed by their very actions that they believed Tom. The people who hired the plane to tow that sign over the camp showed by their actions that they did not believe him. So Jesus is telling us that if we believe in him, we will live our lives in a way that everyone can tell.

And while ultimately that is about how we live our lives out there in the world when we leave here, it starts here. Do we appreciate the gift of Eucharist? Jesus says to us, take and eat; take and drink. By taking and eating, we become more fully the body of Christ because what we take and eat is the Body of Christ. Not just Jesus who is the head but the whole Body of Christ. That is the appropriate response because if we become more fully the Body of Christ, we will live as Christ. That is the most perfect way to let God know we understand his love. By taking and drinking we proclaim what a gift it is that God's own self poured out this blood for our salvation. And doing so we commit ourselves to pour out our own lives for each other. I sometimes kid that people actually understand this deep down and this why so many people receive the precious Body and just walk past the precious Blood. Like the crowds who followed Jesus to get more food, we say sure we want that nourishment but then we come to the cup and by our action we say, "Pour out our blood as you did? No thanks!"

It is easy for me and people my age to look at the younger generation and characterize them as the entitled generation. But am I any better? What do any of us have that has not been given to us, no lavished upon us, by God? From the existence of the universe, to my own birth, to the opportunities I have had in my life for education and work, to the gift that my wife Betsy is, and my children and my grandchildren, and you, to the very next breath I take, I have earned none of it. It is all gift. It is in the deepening realization of this that evangelization has its roots. In the face of all of that gift, I often respond by sin, and yet even then, God forgives me and continues to love me, more gift. If I but begin to realize what God has given and continues to give me in this sacrament of Eucharist, and the forgiveness I am given in the Sacrament of Reconciliation I have to share that. That is all that Evangelization, new or old, is about.

“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

homily index
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The Israelites said to them,“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was.
But Moses told them,“This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Brothers and sisters:
I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.
John 6:24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,“Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him,“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
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.”

So they said to him,“Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them,“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”