Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Exodus 16:2-4,12-15; Psalm 78:3-4,23-25,54; Ephesians 4:17,20-24; John 6:24-35)
Spending Time with Jesus, The Bread of Life
“My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” (John 6:32)
After another long day of traveling in the desert, you and your fellow Israelites are tired, hungry, and discouraged. “Is the Lord in our midst or not?” you demand (Exodus 17:7). But the next morning, you awake to find a white, wafer-like substance covering the ground, and you hear Moses calling out: “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15).
We are pretty familiar with the story of the manna in the desert. But did you know that this “heavenly bread” was so valuable that the Israelites placed a vessel filled with manna in the ark of the covenant? There it stayed for generations as a constant reminder of God’s care and presence among them.
We continue this tradition today by reserving the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle in every church. This tabernacle stands as a new “ark of the covenant,” reminding us of the new covenant that God made with us in Christ. But it does so much more than that. We believe that the bread in our tabernacles is not just flour and water. It is the body of Christ. In a wonderful, sacramental way, Jesus is present in the tabernacle. He is there to remind us of our new covenant but also to welcome us whenever we come to pray to him. He is there to speak to us, to minister to us, and to lift our hearts up to heaven. Blessed Pope John Paul II captured this beautifully when he wrote:
“It is pleasant to spend time with [Jesus], to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart… . How often, dear brothers and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support! (On the Eucharist, 25)”
Jesus is waiting for you in the tabernacle. Try to carve out some time this week to rest in his presence.
“All glory to you, Jesus! You never sleep nor slumber. Come, Lord and deepen our love for you, the Bread of Life!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- In the first reading, the Israelites “grumbled against Moses” even though they had seen God work miracles through him to set them free from a brutal slavery in Egypt. Why do you believe the miracles were not sufficient to put their faith in God when they experienced difficult times in the desert? Why do you believe God would respond in such love rather than punish the Israelites for their lack of faith and trust in him?
- The responsorial Psalm 78 calls the bread the Lord gave the Israelites “heavenly bread.” In what ways is this bread that the Lord “rained” down from heaven (Exodus 16:4) a foreshadowing of the Eucharist?
- In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts his fellow believers to no longer live in the “futility of their minds,” but to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” In other words, he is calling them to live a life ruled by the Holy Spirit, not by their “flesh,” which is “corrupted through deceitful desires.” In what way do you see this as a call for your own life? What steps can you take to respond to this call?
- In the Gospel reading from John, even though the crowd had seen Jesus multiply the loaves, they still ask him to perform a sign similar to the Israelites receiving manna in the desert. The crowd referred to this manna as “bread from heaven to eat” (John 6:31), yet were not able to see Jesus as the “true bread from heaven” (6:32) and the “bread of life” (6:35). In what ways were the responses of the “crowd” that followed Jesus to Capernaum similar to those of the Israelites in the desert? In what ways were they responding as men of the flesh, not men of the Spirit?
- The meditation ends with these words: “Jesus is waiting for you in the tabernacle. Try to carve out some time this week to rest in his presence.” In spite of your busy schedule, how can you respond to these challenging words?
Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to spending more time with Jesus, the Bread of Life, in an Adoration Chapel, at Mass, or in prayer. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.