Reflection on 19th Sunday: 8th August 2021

Is There Life Within You?

How often are we asked the question: “How are you?” And how often do we give the standard answers: “Fine… I’m doing well… Things are really busy right now… I’m good.” Sometimes we add something about our family, our health, where we have been, or what we have been doing. More often than not those conversations focus on the circumstances of life but there is a difference, a vast difference, between doing life and having life within us. Most of us spend a fair amount of time, energy, and prayer trying to create and possess the life we want. In spite of our best efforts sometimes we live less than fully alive. We ask ourselves, “What am I doing with my life?” We wonder if this is all there will ever be. Is this as good as it gets? We despair at what is and what we think will be. Those questions and feelings are not so much a judgement on us, but a diagnosis of us. They are symptoms of our lack of understanding of what true life is.

Eckhart Tolle differentiates between our life situation and our life. ‘Underneath the various conditions that make up our life situation – which exists in time – there is something deeper, more essential: our Life, our very Being in the timeless Now.’ Is there life within us? The question pushes us to discover our hunger for the experience of eternal life already given to each of us by the Father: “No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father.” In her book Waiting for God Simone Weil wrote, ‘The danger is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.’ In the Jewish Scriptures bread is often a symbol of the word of God. Jesus invites us come to him and to feed on his presence, and in particular to feed on his word. That word will shape our lives. It empowers us to live the kind of life that Saint Paul puts before us in the second reading: a life in which we love one another as Christ loved us, forgive one another as readily as God forgives us. That, in essence, is our calling.

We sometimes experience a taste of eternal life, when everything seems to fit together perfectly and all is right with the world, not because we get our own way but because we know our self to be a part of something larger, more beautiful. These are moments when time stands still and we wish the wonder of the moment will never end. And it tastes good.

Adapted: Michael Marsh

Second Reading Ephesians 4:30-5:2

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be free when the day comes. Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.
Try, then, to imitate God, as children of his that he loves, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.

Gospel John 6:41-51

The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said. “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” “Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph” they said, “We know his father and mother. How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus said in reply, “Stop complaining to each other. No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets: They will all be taught by God, and to hear the teaching of the Father, and learn from it, is to come to me. Not that anybody has seen the Father, except the one who comes from God: he has seen the Father. I tell you most solemnly, everybody who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”