Bill Ayres continues to offer his reflections to help our prayer.
A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy
(Chapter 8:2-3, 14b-16a)
Moses was the leader of the Hebrews as they escaped from Egypt into the horrors of the Sinai Desert where they suffered for forty years from extreme thirst, hunger, and attacks from poisonous serpents and scorpions. Here, he explains that this was a test. “Remember how for forty years now the Lord, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your attention to keep the commandments. He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to your fathers, in order to show that not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”
As they established their new homeland, the Hebrews had many battles with other tribes and nations, and the message was always that God was with them, even in their worst suffering and challenges.
It is most important to hear this message of “God With Us” now, as we suffer our own kind of exile, often separated from people we love and the work that sustains us in so many ways.
Do you take a little time each day to reconnect with the Spirit of God within you who will help you to get through the “desert” that we now travel?
(Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20)
“Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.” This psalm celebrates the blessings that God has showered on Jerusalem and on all of Israel. It helps us to remember all the blessings that God has given to our community and our country, lest we forget or take them for granted.
A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
Paul wants his readers to know that the meal that they celebrate is not just any meal but rather the presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
“Brothers and sisters: The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.”
If we have ever taken the Eucharistic Meal for granted, we certainly do not now, when most of us have not been able to celebrate together for months. Hopefully, we will come back soon and do so with caution and joy, remembering all our sisters and brothers who have died from the virus or any other cause and all those who are still afflicted.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
The following words must have seemed dangerous to many who did not believe, including the Roman rulers, but the followers of Jesus knew what the words really meant.
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jewish audience were shocked by these words. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” They knew from Moses about the manna that God sent from heaven when the people were starving in the desert, but this was very different. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. … “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
That is the same promise the Lord makes to us today. We will live forever! Amen!
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.