Today we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. In the first reading from the book of Genesis and our gospel we hear about the creation of man and woman and the union God designs for them. Throughout the Scriptures we see that God creates and sustains life. Through Jesus we each receive the call to create and sustain life.
Some years back I received the following from a parishioner and would like to share it with you. As Peter professed faith in Jesus as the Christ / Savior (today’s gospel) let us put our faith in God’s hands. Peace.
A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million. It depends on whose hands it’s in. A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Mark McGuire’s hands is worth about $19 million. It depends on whose hands it’s in.
“This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus quotes these words from the prophet Isaiah, challenging the religious leaders to be authentic in their practice of the faith. If their words, sacrifices and rituals do not make their hearts more like God’s, whose heart is gentle and loving, then their words, sacrifices and rituals are empty.
In the first reading today from the prophet Isaiah thus says the Lord, “Say to those whose hearts are frightened; be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared, then will the lamb leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sand will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.”
In the second reading today from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he speaks about relationships, particularly the relationships of husbands and wives. The key line is the first: “Brothers and sisters: Be subordinate to one another.” The Webster’s definition of subordinate is: “inferior to or placed below another in rank, power or importance.” If St. Paul initiates this section with “be subordinate to one another” he wants to emphasize the importance of humility and allowing someone else to be first. Jesus life is our example, for “though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
In today’s gospel from the 6th chapter of St. John, we hear these words: The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Two weeks ago the gospel was the multiplication of the loaves. In that story Jesus saw that the people were hungry and in need of nourishment, so he accomplished a miracle. Our gospel today is from the same chapter of John’s gospel (chapter 6). Unfortunately, the nourishment that Jesus wanted to give the people was more than nourishment for the body. Jesus tells us: “I am the bread of life….whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
In today’s first reading the Israelites receive the gift of manna, a special bread from heaven to sustain them in the journey through the desert. In the gospel Jesus states that He is the needed food for the journey when He says: “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Wouldn’t it be great to have the money in your pocket multiplied? I often wish the money in the Sunday collection would be multiplied. But what I would most like to see multiplied would be the gifts of the Lord. Gifts such as love, peace, forgiveness and understanding would be wonderful to see multiplied in my life and in the world. In the gospel and first reading today we hear about the multiplication of bread. That too would be wonderful – a day when no one went hungry.
A Day of Rest
While some cultures build the workday around the afternoon siesta, thus ensuring that all workers have a daily time of renewal, others no longer even endorse the idea of “keeping Sunday.” Instead, everyone is constantly busy, caught up in an endless cycle of tasks to be done.