Soul Food for Sundays

A Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (8th August 2021)

8th August 2021
John 6:41-51

The Author: Tom McDonald C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: July 31, 2021 - 2 minutes read

In Nairobi I worked with both seminarians and university students. On occasions when discussing the liturgy for a Sunday, I might mention the theme of the four readings; immediately the reply would come, “No, Father there are only three readings.”  Sometimes they might add “Father, that is only the Psalm.”

Yet, the psalter is one of the richest books in the Bible and today’s Psalm 33, is one of the best: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” The psalmist calls the people to look to God as the one who protects and sustains. The Psalm should be read and prayed.

The reading about Elijah is well-known. God protects and sustains Elijah for the commitments ahead. This is our experience when we celebrate the Eucharist with faith. We are fed with the bread of life so that we may be sincerely and radically committed to God’s will in our daily lives. Reading and reflecting on John, Chapter 6 is a life’s work. Even the short extract we have today is breath-taking. Every phrase will attract us and invite us to stop and think, e.g. “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” This is certainly arresting!

So, is my following Jesus not my own fully human decision and responsibility?

Am I not asked at baptism and many times since “Do you believe?”

It seems that at times we do decide. We read in John that “the light has come into the world, but the people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil” (3:19). Surely the grace of God has the last word!

One other phrase in today’s Gospel speaks to me. “Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes in me has eternal life.” This verse is outstanding among others as it contains two words that are essential in John’s Gospel; believe and life! This gospel is written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and that believing this you will have life in his name.” (20:31).

A most consoling feature of Jesus is his ability to give life – to those who receive him. He came that we may have life and that is certainly Good News.

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Tom McDonald C.S.Sp.

Fr. Tom served in Nigeria in the 1960s before doing further studies. He spent more than three decades of his missionary life in Kenya. He worked in formation in Nigeria, Kenya and Ireland and works in hospital chaplaincy in Ireland.