Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year BLeave a Comment

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The heart of Christianity

The people need Jesus, and they look for him. There is something in him that attracts them, but they still do not know exactly why they seek him or for what. According to the evangelist, many do so because the day before he had given them bread to satisfy their hunger.

Jesus starts to talk with them. There are things that are better made clear from the start. Physical bread is very important. He himself has taught them to ask God for the daily bread for all. But humans need something more. Jesus wants to offer them a food that can forever satisfy their hunger for life.

The people sense that Jesus is opening up a new horizon for them, but they do not know what to do, or where to begin. The Gospel writer sums up their questions with these words: What can we do to accomplish the works of God? They have within them a sincere desire to ascertain. They want to work at what God wants, but being used to thinking about all this from the perspective of the Law, they ask Jesus what new works, practices and observances they need to keep in mind.

Jesus’ answer touches the heart of Christianity: This is the work [in singular] of God, that you believe in the one he sent. God only wants them to believe in Jesus Christ, for he is the great gift that God has sent to the world. This is a new demand. It is in this that they have to work. Everything else is secondary.

After twenty centuries of Christianity, do we not need to rediscover that the Church’s whole strength and originality lie in believing in Jesus Christ and following him? Do we not need to pass from the attitude of the followers of a religion of “beliefs” and “practices” to living as Jesus’ disciples?

Christian faith does not consist primordially in continuing to comply correctly with a code of new practices and observances that are superior to those of the Old Testament. No. Christian identity lies in learning to live a way of life that is born of a living and trusting relationship with Jesus the Christ. We keep becoming Christians to the extent that we learn to think, feel, love, work, suffer and live as Jesus does.

Being Christian today demands such an experience of Jesus and identification with his project as was not required of anyone, until a few years ago, to be a good religious practitioner. In order to survive in the midst of our secular society, Christian communities need more than ever to make sure they have vital adherence to and contact with Jesus the Christ.

August 2, 2015
18 Ordinary Time (B)
John 6, 24-35

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