Tuesday 4 August 2015

The Bread of Life from a Tooth Ache

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Bread of Life from a Tooth Ache (Y-not question the Sunday Readings)
by Sandra @, Friday, July 31, 2015, 10:32 (4 days ago)
edited by Sandra, Friday, July 31, 2015, 10:47

Reading 1
EX 16:2-4, 12-15
Responsorial Psalm
PS 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Reading 2
EPH 4:17, 20-24
MT 4:4B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone, but by every
word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
JN 6:24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

In the Gospels we find a strong emphasis on food, mainly named as bread and wine. 2,000 years after these gospels were written, bread and wine is still a delightful way of sharing life together with friends and good conversation.
Last week we had the story of feeding the multitude with a few loaves and fishes. This week Yeshua speaks about BREAD FROM HEAVEN. Is he speaking of what we now know as Eucharistic bread? We are assured that if we share in the eating of this blessed bread and wine, we shall never thirst. Not a physical thirsting but a fullness of soul and mind and a peaceful heart. I believe there are many other ways of receiving Bread from Heaven and I shall explain with 2 personal stories.
This gospel so reminds me of a time in my life over 40 years ago when I spent a few years nursing at a Mission outpost in PNG. Our location was very isolated and food was scarce. We survived mostly on Sao biscuits and tins of Spam. Yet our hearts were warm and we just get on with what we were there to do.

After several months on the mission station my enthusiasm was waning. I longed for a hot shower, an inside toilet and a bed without cockroaches crawling in it. Then one day God fed with me that Bread of Life in the form of an old Papuan man. He arrived at our mission station in a tired and weary state. He was brought to me and he just pointed to a tooth in his mouth that I could tell was rotten with an abscess. Word spread quickly and soon a huge crowd gathered on the grass as the ladies were returning from their gardens and the men did nothing much anyway every day. I had no tools or experience in extracting teeth but fortunately our priest happened to be with us that day and he suggested he had pliers in his motor bike kit would they help? So we lit a primus and boiled the pliers in a billy- can. I gave the man a Pethidine injection and sat him on a chair on the grass. It took over ten minutes to slowly remove his diseased tooth and I prayed fervently it would not break into pieces. As I held up the pliers with the tooth, the crowd roared their approval. The man was so grateful he threw himself on the ground and put his arms around my legs saying words that I knew probably meant “thanks”. It was the most humbling experience of my life. I was only there through the courtesy of the Capuchin missionaries.
It was amazing this man found our mission. I learned he had walked for 3 nights to reach us. He walked through so much enemy territory he hid by day and walked by night. He had waited for a full moon to help his vision. He had no road maps. He just knew there was a Mission with a nurse in a certain direction. There are over 800 languages in PNG and this man managed to find us. He had no idea that he was The Bread of Life for me at that time. My waning inner spirit rose to the heights of humility and enthusiasm.
BREAD FROM HEAVEN is entirely unselfish. It has no length, breadth or depth. It is an all-consuming unconditional love. It is also a free gift that we can accept or reject. If we want to be happy amidst the crisis and trials of life that come to each one of us, we do well to accept that the Bread of Life comes to us in forms other than consecrated hosts as with my ‘tooth’ man. Let me tell another story to illustrate this.
30 years after my time in PNG I knew a woman who was not Catholic and followed no other faith tradition. Ann was the most intelligent woman I have ever met. Dux of her school came easily for her then University. She had a job that came with a very high salary and lurks and perks. She recorded every penny she spent right from her first day of work. Then came retirement with all her plans of travelling the world, going in a ship to the Antarctic, the world would be her oyster with a bottomless budget. Then she got sick. A diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer wrecked all her plans and she died a year later. She was very angry that my God had cheated her. Many people were praying for her recovery and when that did not happen she declared our God was not real or our prayers would have been answered. She left all her money to her younger brother in his 60’s and told her other brother she did not like him and left him nothing. I had never seen behavior like this and was shocked. She allowed many Christian women from my church and her Probus club take her to her numerous hospital appointments and chemo days. It never occurred to her to reimburse these older ladies for fuel costs or anything else. She felt we Christians need people like her as we only feel good when we are doing something for someone else. Well I was the one person at her bedside as she slipped away in a haze of Morphine that rendered her unconscious. It was a cold and lonely death in a hospital bed. She decided there is no god and heaven is a load of rubbish as there is nothing after death but a big black hole of nothingness. I have long wondered whether she found a loving God at the end of her life journey. The time and care given to her by so many people was in a way nurturing her with spiritual Bread of Life. She just did not ‘get it’. The generous ladies who did so much for her asked nothing in return for their time and inconvenience. 
So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Yeshua himself is our Bread of Life. In so many ways Yeshua was a mentor of how we can live our lives. He cared about each and every person and we are called to do the same. That is not always easy! Some people are downright irritating (as with Ann) yet we are called to love them just the same. Love is not a partial offering but a total offering of who we are with an inner longing to love all of God’s creatures from both the Human and Animal species. Life is precious. We only have one chance so we need to give it our best. Yeshua promises to never leave us. We are fed, nourished and recharged by His own self. His spirit in the form of Eucharistic bread is given to us to keep our souls alive.
It is interesting to note the importance some people give to food. Eating is a huge part of some people’s lives. Look at the numerous television programs focused on cooking and eating. But I find it is heavenly bread that feeds our souls and minds and hearts. It is taking Yeshua into our own human heart and being that makes the difference. A person can be physically starving for human food, yet if their heart is filled to overflowing with divine love they barely notice the human hunger. Maybe we can each ask ourself: "Am I the Bread of Life" for the stranger?
Sandra --> Go to Catholica Ynot question the Sunday readings, for the responses to this Posting.