Deacon Cornellís Homily


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


July 31-August 1, 2021, Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B

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

These two angels were sitting side by side one day, answering incoming calls to heaven. At lunch one of the angels said to the other one, "I have been answering calls non-stop all morning but I noticed that you only had a few calls. What's up with that?" The second angel replied, "Oh that's because I am answering the the line for thank you calls!"

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 thank you. 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 in 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 barley loaves and 2 fishes as we heard last week. Are they coming after Jesus to say thank you? No, they want to know if he can give them more food. 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 teaching about the Eucharist the 3 synoptic Gospels situate at the Last Supper. As is evident in Jesus words and from the evangelists, we see that the Exodus story of the manna and quail from heaven and the feeding of the 5 thousand in the Gospel, are a clear prefiguring of the Eucharist. Eucharist: the very word means thanksgiving. If we truly believed what we profess to believe about Eucharist as Catholics, then there is only one proper response: to be thankful.

True thanksgiving 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 lets 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.

Two of my 3 out of state kids were here this past week with their children. My son Matt was trying to teach his nephew, my 4 year old grandson Roman, to jump into the shallow end of the pool without his floaties on. Matt talked to Roman, assuring him that he would catch him when he jumped and he would not let Roman's head go under the water. Roman nodded his head and said that he understood and believed what his uncle Matt was saying, but when he got up to the edge of the pool he refused to jump. It took an extended back and forth, plus a few trial jumps with Matt holding Roman's hands even before he jumped before Roman really believed Matt enough to jump without having his hands held

So do we really believe that our loving God has given us a gift of the body, soul, and divinity of his only begotten Son? A gift that transforms us more fully into that same body of Christ when we receive Communion?

While ultimately the answer to that question is demonstrated by 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. So if we truly believe that 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. Of course in these pandemic times, we do not receive from the cup but our faith teaches us that receiving the consecrated host, we do receive all of Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity. So even if it is harder to see it without the more obvious symbolism of the cup, by receiving the consecrated host, we proclaim what a gift it is that Jeus poured out God's own blood for our salvation. And doing so we commit ourselves to pour out our own lives for each other.

So to do the work of God, the work of believing in the one he sent, we are called and sent to proclaim the good news that God loves us so much that he lavishes gift after gift on us. What do any of us have that has not been given to 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, my great grandchild, and all of you, to the very next breath I take, I have earned none of it. It is all gift. 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, doing the work of God, is about: responding to God's loving gift by living in such a way that we draw others to that love of God.

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

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