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If our life is a wilderness

BY SR HILDEGARD RYAN OSB

Sunday, July 29th, 2012,  is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. 

Lectio:  The Gospel is John 6:1-15.

Meditatio:  Some background to the text which will help us respond. This is John’s version of the Eucharistic miracle.  The story of the loaves and the fish given to the 5000 (the number means countless people), with some left over is about the gift of Jesus to the world.  The Bread of the Eucharist will never run out.  Of this miracle, St Augustine wrote:  “The miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ are truly divine works, which lead the human mind through visible things to a perception of the Godhead.” 

Fr Karl Rahner gives a great spiritual in-depth interpretation.  He sees that people are driven on by a hunger for God, and so they follow Jesus into the wilderness.  “They follow him there because they realise that their own life is a wilderness…they are looking for a Prophet, they hunger for God’s Word…so they go into the wilderness…they leave the places where they have their homes and the bread of their earthly existence.”  There is much more that could be said about this text, but I will stay with Fr Karl Rahner’s interpretation.

Read the text again.   Ponder on it before making your response.  I share mine in Evangelizatio No. 1.

EVANGELIZATIO – my lived response to the texts given to me by the Church for my “formation”.  In responding to these text I am listening with the ear of my heart, taking their riches into my life and changing all the time more and more into Christ. 

In the light of Fr Rahner’s interpretation, I ask myself:  Am I willing to leave the securities of home and earthly bread in order to seek Jesus and receive the Bread of Life.  Mostly I would answer “yes”.  But when the going is rough, I hesitate.  When trials abound, I begin to falter.  I ask:  Did God really mean this much wilderness, this much purification, this much pruning back in order to flower?  At some point in my life I said my “yes” to God and followed Jesus into the wilderness to witness the miracle of His Bread of Eternal Life. 

The deepest part of me knows that His grace is sufficient for me in every situation.  I pray for that Grace daily.  And in this Year of Grace, I pray to go on starting afresh from Christ, or as one Australian Bishop has said:  to “put out into the deep.”  St John Vianney (The Cure d’Ars), whose feast day occurs this week, taught much in his lifetime.  On vocation and grace he wrote:  “God has given each of us our own work to do.  It is for us to pursue our road, that is to say, our vocation…When God gives us such and such a vocation, God bestows upon us at the same time grace to fulfil it.”

– Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB, Jamberoo Abbey

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