So our guest speaker last week, 12 year old Joe – told us he had a cat, Phoebe, who he once tried to give a bath to. . . I also have a cat, a nine year old black cat named, Samantha – Sammy, for short – who I have never tried to bathe. . .
Sammy is good company for me, she makes very few demands, and is unconditional in her affection. One thing I have noticed about her over the years, though – is that she always seems to be hungry.
My routine is to feed her first thing in the morning – when she is patiently waiting by her bowl in the kitchen when I get up. Then I eat breakfast — and go out for a walk. When I come in – Sammy— is patiently waiting by her bowl in the kitchen.
I go off to the office and come back for lunch – and Sammy — is patiently waiting by her bowl in the kitchen.
I go out for the afternoon – and guess where Sammy is when I get back home? Patiently waiting by her bowl in the kitchen.
Now she knows she is only going to get fed once in the morning – which leads me to think – either she is a hopeless dreamer when it comes to food — or she is just always hungry. . .
What about us? Are we hungry people? And I’m not talking Big Macs and fries (which incidentally turned 50 this week – that is, the Big Mac).
Are we hungry people? Because in today’s Gospel (and for the next three weeks) Jesus calls himself THE BREAD OF LIFE – and he wants nothing more than to feed us that bread — so are we hungry?
Now this is not just bread to keep us physically alive – like the five loaves and two fish of last Sunday’s Gospel. . . even though that’s what the crowd following Jesus is after – more food — it’s not what Jesus is offering them now. . .
I am the bread of life. . . this bread Jesus is offering is to sustain our spiritual life — the life that was given to us at Baptism –
The life we sometimes hide from others or ignore in ourselves – but a life which is much bigger and more important than we realize. It’s the life that remains even after our earthly life ends
Our bodily, physical lives need food to nourish them – and so does our spiritual life. . .
But the Bread of Life which Jesus offers to sustain our spiritual life —- comes with a huge challenge.
With earthly bread and food – the biggest challenge is how much we have to exercise in order to keep those Big Macs and fries off our waistline.
The Bread of Life, on the other hand, comes with a commitment to live differently. For when we receive the Bread of Life in Communion – we become like little tabernacles – storing the presence of Christ within us. And so when we receive the Bread of Life, we’re expected to live that presence of Christ — in a way that gives evidence to the world that Christ is really there within us.
St. Paul talks about this in our second reading: “Put away the old self of your former way of life corrupted through deceitful desires — and be renewed in the spirit of your minds – and put on the new self.”
Going to Communion is not something we should do lightly and without intention – without putting some thought into it – for when we receive the Eucharist – it unites us to Christ!
And, I think, sometimes that’s why we do it so automatically – because we don’t want to take the consequences seriously – we want to continue living life the way we’ve always lived it: focused on the things of this world, focused on the things that make us feel good, focused on the things that really don’t challenge us —- rather than focusing on the fact that we now carry Christ within us – and because of that – we have to act differently.
So are we hungry people??
I think within us all – there is a part of us that isn’t very hungry for the Bread of Life. It’s the part of us that longs for the passing pleasures of the fleshpots of Egypt – like the Israelites in the first reading – even though we know the price of that pleasure —- is a life of slavery. . . This is the part of us that sees the Life God call us to— as too challenging, too rigorous, too difficult.
It’s the part of us that goes to Mass on Sunday – but then trash-talks a coworker on Monday, or lies about something on Tuesday… or ignores the cry of the poor and the needy of Wednesday.
It’s the part of us that when presented with the Bread of Life, the food which Jesus himself promises will bring us eternal joy and happiness —- says: No thanks – I’m doing just fine. . .
But hopefully we have a much larger and more dominant part of our lives which actually does hunger and thirst, that longs and pines for – the bread which will last forever.
It’s that part of us that’s kind of like my cat – always hungry – never getting enough.
It’s that part of us that has experienced other foods and other forms of nourishment and find they come up short.
It’s that part of us that wants to hold the Life of God within our hearts like living tabernacles –and then making the commitment to live differently.
It’s that part of us, that despite our limitations and our sinfulness wants to give the life that Christ demands of us – everything we’ve got!
It’s that part of us that cries out with Jesus’ followers in the Gospel: “Lord, give us this bread always!”
And the greatest thing about this – is that Jesus does always give us this Bread – each and every time we come to the Eucharist! —- and the more we open our hearts to receiving him, the more we can live our lives in conformity with him.
and the more the part of us that longs for fulfillment and which hungers for something more – will be satisfied.
And Jesus said to them: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Let’s never tire of thanking God for this great gift of the Eucharist – and never tire of letting the Eucharist transform our lives. . .
So, I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, by telling you I have a cat. Samantha was given to me by some Holy Family parishioners who rescued her from a dumpster. So she is a joy in my life.
I also find joy in reading – almost anything except westerns and romance novels. So far this year I have read 47 books – which puts me a little behind as my goal is always to read 100 books a year – but remember, I never have the radio on in my house and seldom watch television – which gives me the time and the quiet to read.
I love to travel and one of my bucket list items is to make it to all 50 states – I am up to 42 at this point. I have been to Europe several times and want to go at least once more to see the D-Day beaches of Normandy – which will also give me my history fix. I absolutely enjoy cruises – and will be taking a cruise in January to Cuba. And for some reason – I enjoy caves. . .
My rural roots run deep – and so I enjoy drives in the country, walking, and time spent in the yard – and growing and nurturing things in the garden.
Woodworking is another hobby of mine – never anything too fancy although I have turned out a few pieces of furniture and have built lots of bookshelves in my day.
I enjoy trying new things – which got me to parasail on my last vacation, even though I don’t like heights — and got me to Chiefs training camp in St. Joe this past week — even though I’m not much of a sports fan.
I like supporting live music and theater events – so I saw Hairspray at Starlight this week and have season tickets to the Missouri Rep. and occasionally go to the symphony and the opera – but seldom the ballet –which was one of Fr. Robert’s favorites. . .
All of these pursuits hopefully nourish my soul and sparks my creativity. . . . all in all, I think I am a pretty simple guy who just enjoys hanging out with my friends & family – and of course, my cat.
So — next week we will have a story – and in the meantime be a worthy tabernacle for Christ this week!