Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bread of Life

Over the next few weeks we in the Catholic Church will be hearing various passages from Jesus' Bread of Life Discourse in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. The discourse begins with the multiplication of the loaves and goes through various stages of Jesus presenting himself to us as The Bread of Life and telling us that we are to eat His flesh and drink His blood.
This chapter has leads us of course to the Eucharist, but before it does that it leads us to embrace Jesus himself as our Bread of Life and makes us ask, I believe, is Jesus in practice our bread, or are we nourishing ourselves elsewhere?
I was listening to a talk show recently and one of the callers said, "we area nation of Christianity and rugged individualism." the only problem with that is that rugged individualism is not a Christian value. Our faith certainly leads us to respect for the uniqueness and individuality of each person (see me YouTube clip of a few weeks ago "On the Source of Human Dignity), but it also sees the person in the context of community, not as running ruggedly solo.
Remarks like this underscore the fact that so many of us choose a philosophy of life based on our political leanings, our favorite talk show host, TV or newspaper commentator, etc. We then blend it in with our religious understanding. The challenge is to ask ourselves, "Is Jesus, the Gospel, the reign of God my first and most basic nourishment for mind and spirit? Do I evaluate everything else on the basis of that?"
I think what we discover then is that being 100% liberal or conservative, as those ideologies are understood in today's world is not possible for a follower of Jesus Christ. Right from the beginning Christians have been challenged to study and evaluate the ideas and philosophies of this world and to take from them what helps us to understand and live the Gospel more fully, but never to replace the Gospel with these ideas.

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