Scripture Reflection . . .
Eighteenth Dunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4;12-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 78 “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.”
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:17,20-24
Gospel: John 6:24-35
Today’s readings continue to reveal that the kingdom of God cannot be found at the level of our mind ( the questioning of the crowd in the Gospel) as we try to understand, figure it out, or think we have to do something to earn it; or God has to do something to convince us it’s real. Nor can the kingdom of God be readily visible at our stomach level – our base desires and reflex responses ( the grumblings of the Israelites). . But somewhere in between is the “heart” that is both aware of the thoughts and the feelings. Here is where belief resides and it can ride out doubts and times of emptiness. This is where Jesus can sustain us as the Bread of Life. Here is where we can see abundance in seeming barrenness and Love in the midst of oppression.
St Paul in writing to the Ephesians speaks of being “renewed in the spirit of your minds putting on the new self, created in God’s way. . .” There is a sense of transformation; of being able to see in a new way. Perhaps this is living at the heart level. And it requires a deep sense of being: being still, being aware, being with God. And we discover that being is believing; we discover we have been nourished with a food that will never leave us empty.
In Our Lives as Sisters of the Redeemer . . .
One of our key scriptures since the founding of our Congregation is from Isaiah, “draw with joy from the springs of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3). We are called to a have and to be a contemplative spirit in the midst of carrying out the works of mercy; to live deeper then the surface vision, thoughts and words and to be sustained by the Eternal source.
Times of personal and communal prayer, Mass, and Adoration are ways of going to the heart level. But so are times of being present to who ever we are with or what ever we are about. Not just going through the motions but being deeply aware – aware of the thoughts and feelings and choosing to let go of these so as to be in the present moment.
In Your Life . . .
Practice living at the heart level by first taking time to be still. Now ultimately you can do this at any time & any place such as sitting on a train or bus, or taking a walk, but it may be easier at first to find a quiet place where you can relax. Notice what you are thinking (things to do, things you didn’t do, etc.) . Notice what you are feeling (tired, hungry, distracted, happy, etc.). You can write these down if you wish.
Now, invite God’s Spirit to guide you and offer a open heart ready and willing to listen. Listen with your ears to whatever is around you, notice your breathing in and out. Accept whatever thoughts come and let them go as you breathe out.
Now listen to God. No need to force words or thoughts. This may just be a time of stillness to prepare your heart to receive God’s words at a later time. The gift is that as long as you opened your heart to God, God is at work in you even if you don’t notice, hear, or feel anything.
Conclude this time in thanksgiving to God who can “accomplish more than you can ask or imagine” ( Ephesians 3:20).
Blessings on your week!