Spiritual food

BY SR HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

Sunday, August 5th, 2012, is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

Lectio:  Read the Gospel text from John 6:24-35.    Read it slowly and reflectively, and maybe a second time.  Try to read aloud rather than with the mind.  Listen to the text as you read.  Stand back from it and ponder.

Read it a second time, and maybe a third time.

Meditatio:  Some background to help us understand the text and respond to it.

This Gospel culminates in one of the “I am” sayings of John’s Gospel.  In this case it is “I am the Bread of Life.  Those who come to me will never be hungry.  Those who believe I me will never thirst.”  The people look for Jesus – they notice that Jesus and the disciples of Jesus are nowhere to be found.  

They crossed by boat to Capernaum, arrived on shore safely and eventually found the one who had multiplied the loaves and fish and fed them so generously.  Jesus confronts them now with his own mission and the teaching “Do not work for food that cannot last.” 

He takes them to the next stage.  They’ve had earthly food.  Now it’s time to introduce them to spiritual food.  Jesus calls them to faith in Him as the Messiah, the One sent by God.  Then there are the questions, the reference to the manna (Bread in the wilderness), and the reminder that God (not Moses), gave the Manna - and finally, that God gives His Son Jesus as Bread of Life for the world.

Read the Gospel text again slowly with this background…

I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 1.

EVANGELIZATIO:  My lived response to the texts with which the Church exhorts me to pray.  St. James says “Be doers of the Word.”  And the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Word of God is in our hands to do it. 

I am called to respond to the words:  “Those who come to me will never be hungry.”  Writing on the reception of the Eucharist, St Francis de Sales said:  “Receive for love’s sake, what love alone can give.  There is nothing in which the love of Christ is set forth more tenderly or touchingly than in this Sacrament.” 

And St Thomas Aquinas prayed:  “O ever Living and life-giving Bread, grant that my soul on Thee may always live.”  And Jesus says to me:  “Come to me and you will ever be hungry, restless, lacking in completeness, lost or confused.”  And yet, there is something I must do all day long – and here I tend to forget. 

I come to Jesus, receive Jesus at the table of the Eucharist every morning and go forth into the day ahead.   

In order to hold on to the gift I have received I must (at difficult moments), return in mind and spirit to the Eucharist received at Mass, and to the realisation that Jesus has come into my heart and is walking with me through my day.  Some of the time Jesus carries me. 

Other times we walk side by side and other times He leads me and I follow.  Overall, I will never be “alone” because He said:  “Come to me and you will never by hungry…”

Lectio Divina is about reading the Sacred Scriptures, reflecting on the them from an informed background.  It is allowing the Holy Spirit to play on the fibres of my heart, like a harpist, and bring forth the beauty of my response.  In responding to the text, my life is changed more and more into christ.

 

– Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB is based at Jamberoo Abbey 

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