Sunday, August 9, 2015

What Kind of Bread do you eat?

  Over the past few weeks the Gospel texts for Sunday Mass have been taken from the 6th chapter of John. It began a few weeks ago with John's account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and continues with the beautiful Bread of Life discourse.  The entire chapter leads us to a wonderful and profound understanding of the Eucharist.  Unfortunately, though understandably, there are many who get the concluding message of this chapter, namely that we are called, as Jesus tells us to eat His flesh and drink His blood in the Eucharist, but who miss out on the first point that the chapter makes, that Jesus Himself is the Bread of Life.

      This is important because it leads us to realize that not only are we to partake of the Eucharist, but that Jesus is to be our nourishment in everything that we do.  That means that Jesus life and teachings are our source of nourishment.  We can't receive Him in Communion and act contrary to His message of love, peace and forgiveness in our everyday lives.  An old Cherokee story that has been circulating on the internet lately helps us, I believe, to understand this point. 

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

“One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

   I believe that if one is nourished by the Bread of life that one is nourishing the good wolf.  Unfortunately we too easily feed on the bread of violence, rage and division that comes to us through the media, through politics and even at times from some voices within the Church.  I would clarify here that I am not saying that we should never be angry.  The list of things that we can be upset about is long.  The challenge is not to allow anger to become a state of mind, a way of being.

   Jesus tells us in a later chapter of John "You are my friends if you do what I command you." (Jn 15:14)  What does He command us to do? One might think  of the ten comandments, but I think that Jesus also commands us to turn the other cheek, to forgive seventy times seven times and to seek to serve rather than to be served, just to name a few.  If we are nourished by these things the evil wolf will fall silent.

   John 6 is with us for a few more weeks and I do hope to reflect on the Eucharistic message of this chapter in my next blog entry.

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