I realize this is the third Sunday that my opening paragraph is being provoked by the virus. It was then rising at 3,000 cases a day in Thailand, but yesterday it was almost 19,000. With it fear and anxiety levels are high. You hear of cases everywhere, and we continue to cling to hope that “it wouldn’t be me”. Last Sunday, we put a voice to hope. Today this voice tells us that this hope offers faith that come what may, we shall not hunger nor thirst.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst”. (Today’s Gospel)
Fear and anxiety gnaw away inside us. This struggle is more than just securing our practical needs to put bread on the table. What we once thought brought us happiness is perhaps no longer that important. The foundations on which we built our worldly life would have crumbled. Today you won’t wish for a million dollars, you would just wish for the virus to go away. There is an inner conversation taking place in most of us, “What now, life?”
“I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living this aimless kind of life. You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which gets corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth”. (Second Reading)
For many, this virus has taken that choice away from us. Pilate once asked, “What is truth?” And that began the fulfilment of this hope. In our sacraments, the Bread of Life is the Holy Eucharist. The truth of our faith is if there had been no Resurrection, there would not have been this Body to eat, and Blood to drink. Today’s Gospel leads into next Sunday as part of John’s discourse on the Bread of Life. In this the goodness and holiness of the truth is the promise that on our last day we will be raised back to life.
That should be our ultimate desire. And this virus is slowly taking our blinkers off. The prize of life is our own resurrection into eternal life. We must now build our foundation to live our worldly life on this. Yes, indeed this is a spiritual revolution, and it begins inside each one of us. From this platform, our situation in this pandemic in placed into perspective. Fear will not be removed entirely, but more of faith is less of anxiety. And meantime, our mental health is something we need to care for.
“Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’”
We must find faith.
Note: I like to share a favourite hymn of mine “I am the Bread of Life” composed by Sr Suzanne Toolan in 1966. Her lyrics sing the Gospel passage of today and next Sunday. This is a powerful and joyful rendition by the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir. Their faces and smiles are full of the hope and faith that we all must share. “And I will raise you up on the last day!” Thank you too for reading, and the messages of concern when I do not write. I will not be writing for the next 2 Sundays as I will be preparing for a conference. God bless.
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time