“Whoever believes in me believes not only in me
and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.
I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.
I do not condemn him,
for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words
has something to judge him: the word that I spoke,
it will condemn him on the last day….
Rather, we pray for God’s mercy on us, our sinners and our saints, our victims and our accusers. They may not be entirely right, but they are partially right.
And we pray that we might cling to
When a human being says this of his relationship with God, he is either mad or the Son of God. As we have passed from darkness to light, winter to spring, Lent to Easter we have seen with our own eyes Jesus’ right to make his claims. He can speak with astounding authority to us; we believe and we follow.
Saint Francis of Assisi demonstrated the repentance that must characterize our following of Jesus. It is never finished; there is always more to surrender to Jesus.
Francis had an intense and clear vision of poverty. Disavowing all ownership of material, social, intellectual and spiritual property, he wanted only to know the poverty of Jesus. He would claim nothing for himself: neither home nor clothes; neither provisions of food or medicine; neither debts for favors done or rank as the head of a powerful medieval movement. Francis found in owning nothing kinship with vegetable and animal life and both the wealthy and poorest human beings. He made no more provision for tomorrow than the birds store up grain. He was truly an earthling, relying day by day on the providence of God.
As he lay dying he directed the friars to strip his clothes from him and lie him on the bare ground. But the friars refused. There were women present, and not just Lady Poverty! His good friend Lady Jacoba had come to be with him. So Friar Elias, whom Francis admired but didn’t seem to like very much, offered his own habit. Francis should lie on the bare ground in a borrowed habit. Surrendering his precious poverty and his own preferences, Francis obeyed. In the end, Francis must surrender even his vision of perfection.
He did this in imitation of Jesus who surrendered everything to his Father and would keep nothing apart from God.
If you and I can imitate neither Francis nor Jesus in the very specific ways they lived, we can reflect on the stories and let them gently change our hearts.
I know them, and they follow me.
On this Good Shepherd Sunday, pray for vocations to leadership in the Church, especially for priests and bishops.
I love these frank words of Simon Peter. We have come this far, we cannot turn back. And why would we turn back, you have the words of eternal life.
True, this is only the sixth chapter of John. Peter took up the following of Jesus in the first chapter, and Jesus was alone with two other people in the third and fourth chapters. Perhaps Peter has not given enough time to this consideration. But he has been initiated into Christ. The sixth chapter’s presentation of Jesus as the Bread of Life has confirmed him. Had it taken a year his commitment could be no more; had it been only a half-day, his life was changed forever. “We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Since the reintroduction of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) to the Church, we understand the Eucharist is one of the sacraments of initiation. Through the Mass we become disciples of Christ. We remain in him and he remains in us.
We have only to continue our practice of the faith with daily prayer, weekly Mass attendance, participation in the life of the parish and the diocese, and attention to the Holy Spirit moving through our daily life.
Our commitment to Jesus Christ cannot be hidden. We are a light shining in darkness, a city on the hill. If the police were arresting people for being Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me of the crime?
On this Earth Day let us pray that we will learn to appreciate our Sister/Mother Earth in the Spirit of Saint Francis.
The Church has its policies about who should receive the Eucharist and, simply put, they are "practicing Catholics." Others are welcome to observe and pray with us, especially to pray ut unum sunt, that all may be one. The Church has the right to pronounce these policies despite the protest of people who sport WWJD? wrist bands; they reflect our reverence and our beliefs.
But the bishops of the United States have also instructed Eucharistic Ministers to give communion to anyone who approaches the altar. This policy, perhaps, reflects the attitude of Jesus as we meet him in Saint John's Gospel,
I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
John 5 has described the amazing and beautiful love of the Father and the Son. We hear more about their relationship when Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life.”
Bread is there for the eating. Anyone who eats is nourished. It “obeys” the one who eats, nourishing that person’s body. Like the manna in the desert, Jesus is available to anyone who will believe in him, regardless of their worth, their abilities, talents, status, sins, or past.
Jesus will not let himself come between the Father and “what he gave me.” He is not stuck on himself, or his rights and privileges as the Son of God.
So should anyone just walk up and get one of those things? When asked we should answer: the Eucharist is shared by those who belong to the Catholic Church. Those who are not practicing Catholics should not take the sacrament. When there seems to be a misunderstanding, we should clarify. We want to be an avenue to God, and our policies and teachings about the Eucharist are also avenues to God. And we want to harm neither our guests nor our reverence.
Anyone who is willing to receive the Blessed Sacrament with that attitude must eventually join heart and soul to our fellowship, and will certainly be welcome.
The Gospel of Saint John described not the miracles of Jesus but the signs. In our 21st century lingo, miracles are unexpected events that science cannot explain, which apparently come from God. Biblical authors would certainly be surprised by that definition since they never heard of our kind of science, and they believed that every good gift comes from God.
Signs are something else; and, once again, our 21st century scholars are clueless about signs. Saint John’s Gospel opens with “the book of signs,” the first eleven chapters, but these are never proofs of Jesus’ authority. They mean nothing to those who will not take Jesus at his word.
For us, however, they are literally sacraments. As I recall, the Baltimore Catechism definition of sacraments was “outward signs instituted by God to give grace.”
[The Baltimore Catechism had great questions. Unfortunately, it also assigned answers to these marvelous, mysterious questions. They might have reflected the truth more realistically if each answer had ended with ….]
The sign under discussion in John 6 is his feeding a large crowd with five barley loaves and two fish. The Eucharist is rooted in the story of God’s providing his chosen people with manna in the wilderness. As everyone ate daily for forty years and had their fill of bread, so do Christians enjoy the presence of Jesus daily and hourly and at every minute.
Clearly, this presentation reflects the practical experience of the first century Church. They are celebrating the Eucharist at least weekly, and finding astonishing nourishment in it. Food does that. You can eat periodically during the day and go on about your business between times. Christians can eat the Bread of Life once a week and feel deeply satisfied through the next six days, so long as they continue to reflect on its blessings. “O taste and see the goodness of the Lord!”
But many Catholic enjoy the blessing of daily Eucharist. When I look out over a weekday morning congregation, I feel so happy to be Catholic. Although the congregation is largely retired, senior citizens, I know they represent the longing of the entire church to attend this daily liturgy.
In today’s gospel the Jews asked Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” They are asking, of course, that Jesus give his life for their salvation; that he take up his cross and walk to Calvary. That he is eager to do. For you and me, for no greater love has anyone than he lay down his life for his friends.
The dying patient may be the captain of the team as he works with doctors, nurses, other staff persons, and his family; but he must "play team" if he hopes to die gracefully. That means he is willing to receive comfort, both spiritual and physical. He is willing to say and ask for what he needs. Too often we expect our friends and family to figure out what we need. But we're not children anymore, and our parents can't read our minds as they once did, if they did. They are not "supposed to know." If you need something, ask for it. Finally the dying patient should practice gratitude for the support he receives. Dying is not easy on anyone; everyone appreciates appreciation. The captain of the team knows that.
Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.
- The Jewish feast of Passover was near.”
- Now there was a great deal of grass in that place.
Which, of course, lead us into the Mass, as we will learn next week, when the sixth chapter of
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
The Christian religion is rooted in Jewish history and faith;
without those roots we lose our association with