Sunday Scripture Readings

Body of Christ, june 2

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147;

1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-58

OUR GOOD NEWS: What does the Eucharist Do for us? Today's first reading reminds us of a lesson we all painfully learn: ultimately, only God can see us through. Such is the human heart that in the midst of gifts we too easily forget the giver. Blessings of health, success and material prosperity lead to pride and self-sufficiency rather than humble gratitude. Always solicitous for us, God responds to our self-centeredness like a loving parent, concerned to teach rather than punish. He humbles us so that we can experience our frailty and need. In particular, God "tests by affliction," permitting situations where this need for his care becomes painfully obvious. "God let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna." Biblical tradition understands manna as a grain-like food miraculously supplied by God. Manna was understood to have been Israel's staple during her 40-year journey from Egypt and into the Promised Land. But, rather than pampering, manna was part of divine "testing by affliction." The people craved customary bread, but received instead something strange and unappealing, "a food unknown to your fathers." Too often, God won't do things our way! Helpless in a harsh environment incapable of supporting life, and deprived of normal food but sustained by an exotic diet, Israel came to realize her radical need for God's creative word. God it was who directed the march, summoned manna from the ground and gave commandments as expressions of his saving will. This desert story speaks today, summoning us to genuine trust in God. His "word" may run counter to our expectations and preferences; but however unpleasant, his way alone leads to true life. "Remember, the Lord, your God, brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery ... guided you through the vast and terrible desert ... brought forth water ... fed you in the desert with manna." So much does God love us, asking only that we trust in him! Our manna, the Eucharist, is no cheap grace but a call out from sinful self-sufficiency. "This cup of blessing that we share, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?" We discover in the second reading an insight into the effects of Eucharist. It doesn't just bring us into marvelous union with the risen Lord. Paul emphasized that Eucharistic sharing also serves as unique means for bringing us together as a community. "Is not the bread we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is only one bread, we though many, are one bread, one body, all of us partake in the one bread." In sum, Eucharist challenges us to live out the profound unity it symbolizes, creating intimate union with God and fellow believers. It also explains our practice, reintroduced after many centuries, of sharing the sign of reconciliation just before communicating. Reconciliation is both the result (sacramental grace) but also an essential precondition, for we cannot "break bread" and "share the cup" when hate or even indifference infect our relationships. Working through the Eucharistic mystery, God creates for us a loving union impossible through merely human effort.

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