12 August 2018 / 19th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B
•• 1 Kings 19:4-8 •• Psalm 34 •• Ephesians 4:30-5:2 •• + John 6:41-51
•• Title: Moving In… (John 6:41-51)
[__01__] In the Gospel readings of the recent Sundays, of this Sunday and the upcoming Sundays, Jesus has taken the people of his day back to school, back to a new understanding of God’s gifts to them and for them.
He is reminding them that God is not only tending to them by a multiplication of loaves, but also teaching them and asking them to bring their gifts forward to be multiplied.
But, how do we regard the gifts, talents, and dignity that we bring?
An outline. I would like to touch on this Gospel in three aspects, based on what often happens when we go back to school, or back to campus … whether we are living there are not…
There are these 3..
(1) Moving in
(2) Looking Around.
(3) The Bread of Life.
[__02.01__] 1st. MOVING IN.
AUGUST 2001. On a Sunday in August 2001, I arrived with my car absolutely packed with stuff, boxes, belongings to move into Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange.
I began the afternoon somewhat annoyed because I was also – simultaneously trying to move out of my apartment in Hoboken. While trying to re-organize the furniture for my remaining roommate the apartment, I banged my thumb so hard that I needed to keep it on ice all the way from Hoboken to South Orange.
I was relieved, therefore, to encounter helpers among the faculty and staff and seminarians who would move the boxes out of my car into room 211 on the 2nd floor.
So, we need help to move in.
[__02.02__] In terms of both “content” and “comprehension”, Jesus was trying to help his disciples to move and to move in, to a new relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Regarding ‘CONTENT’, there was the content-rich miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. While the disciples protested, Jesus insisted that these 5 loaves and 2 fishes – after the blessing and consecration – would be the “content” …and they would sustain and contain the crowd’s hunger.
Do we trust that even sometimes our seemingly humble or meager gifts – when blessed by God – can go a long way?
So, there is CONTENT at Jesus’ school.
But there is also COMPREHENSION. That is Jesus, was not just teaching them to multiply bread or feed the crowd physically.
And, sometimes the gift of our SACRIFICE does not satisfy someone immediately or physically. Sometimes, we give a gift to a person by saying … no..by saying no because what he or she is asking for is, actually, harmful.
Sometimes, God does not give us what we want immediately.
And, by the Passion and Cross, Jesus does not want to teach us that we do not have to suffer…but wants to teach us HOW TO suffer.
There is content and comprehension.
And, this 6th chapter of John is both a lesson in theology that is kind of advanced..and it is also Christianity 101 … for novices, for the freshman… for all of us who need a refresher.
When we move in to a new school or new class or new state of life, we receive both ‘CONTENT’ and COMPREHENSION. Both the material and the spiritual.
[__03__] What happens after we MOVE IN?
Well, I suggest that we start LOOKING AROUND… we look around for friends, we look around for those we can get along with …and sometimes we look around to avoid the kids your mother told you about.
When I arrived at the seminary – with all of my belongings, I began to look around.
And, I realized – that up until this point, I was the only person that I really knew … and I was the only person that my friends or family really knew who was studying to be a priest.
So…as I told people about this journey – this seminary decision – this made me – I imagined – unusual and interesting in their eyes.
It was like I was the only astronaut they had ever met. I kind of enjoyed that.
But, then, I looked around the seminary and I realized…you know, for all the better, I am not the only person trying to do this.
And, some of these classmates and seminarians I can connect with…some I cannot.
Or, to return the example of move-in day with all the boxes, some of them brought gifts and talents that I wished I could possess.
Some of them brought attitudes that might, at times, annoy me.
Some of them had intellectual gifts that I did not have.
So, for better or worse, I could be either pleased or annoyed any given day.
And, no one wants to be annoyed. We do not like to be annoyed.
So, the decision I had to make went back to Day One. While my thumb was no longer bothering me…the thumb that was banged up slightly trying to move the couch in my apartment … I still had to return to move in day.
Am I ready to move in?
And, over time, I recognized that my calling was not based on what other people thought or said or thought was interesting.
My calling was based on my relationship with God.
And, my belief – however I much I did not want to admit it…that the seminary, the priesthood was not just going to help me to get to a parish, but ultimately to get to heaven.
So, after MOVING IN, after LOOKING AROUND, I learned that the Christian life and Gospel was helping to move toward and look toward God more closely.
[__04__] 3rd The Bread of Life.
Or, in Jesus’ terms, to receive the Bread of Life, his school, his move for us.