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Believing in Christ

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Reflecting on today’s gospel I’m struck by these words:

“Jesus said to the crowd: ‘I Am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believes in me will never thirst.’”

His words resonate because they take me back to our most basic needs, the things we need to to sustain life. Without the basic necessities of food and water we cannot live. Jesus is not speaking of our physical needs in this case. Instead, he reminds us that that our spiritual needs are as basic and as intrinsic to human flourishing as our physical needs are. To be full alive we need to have both spiritual and physical needs met. We cannot live well if one or the other is not lacking.

Living through a cost-of-living crisis that leaves so many people unable to feed their families adequately or to heat their homes only increases the impact of his words. It’s impossible to hear Jesus speak of hunger and thirst without thinking of those in our society who don’t have enough to eat. In those circumstances I can’t help but feel that his words should cause us some discomfort.

The new life the risen Christ offers us necessarily turns us back towards those who have less than we do. In inviting us to come to him Jesus also challenges us us to do everything in our power to ensure that we strive for more equitable society where everyone can have their basic needs met with dignity and respect.

Where is the risen Christ challenging you to do everything you can to meet the needs of others today?

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Dawning recognition

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This Sunday we get another opportunity to revisit the Emmaus gospel. It’s so full of riches that it always offers us something new to reflect on.

I imagine these disciples wearily trudging along the road despondent and hopeless, feeling that they have lost everything. It is in this low state that Jesus appears to walk alongside them. As they share their hurt and hopelessness, he offers an alternative vision of all they’ve been through. Gradually, as they listen to him, their perspective shifts. Some small spark of recognition is kindled in their hearts, which compels them to invite Jesus to stay with them when they reach home:

“They pressed him to stay with them: ‘it is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’”

On the surface their invitation expresses concern for a fellow traveller, on a deeper level it’s an expression of a glimmer of recognition that recognises Christ in this stranger they’ve encountered. Full recognition only dawns when they sit down to eat and Jesus blesses and breaks the bread:

“He took the bread and said the blessing, and then he broke it and handed to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him…”

Jesus stays with them throughout their journey, unfolding the truth gradually and gently, challenging but never forcing, moving at a pace they can cope with. If we allow him to the risen Christ will accompany us as we walk through life, a gentle, challenging presence that stays with us whatever highs and lows we experience.

Where do you experience the reality of Christ walking alongside you in your life?

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In the presence of the living God.

Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Since we celebrated Corpus Christi on Thursday I’ve been reflecting on the nature of Eucharist. The Scripture that comes to mind is the Emmaus story. Although it’s not part of the feast’s liturgy it seems to me to capture something of its essence.

It acknowledges the despair and hopelessness of the disciples as they trudged home disappointed and unsettled by all that has happened. We can identify so strongly with those feelings in our own lives that we almost feel the weight of it all as they pour out their story to Jesus. They remind me that Eucharist offers us an opportunity to bring our brokenness, hurt and disappointment into the presence of Christ.

Jesus responds to their despair by taking them through the Scriptures already know, reminding them of the passages that speak about the Messiah. As he does this their hearts are ignited, and through their sadness they glimpse something so good that they don’t want to let it go, so they invite him to stay with them. Full recognition only dawns as they sit down to eat together and:

“He took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened, and the recognised him…”

It seems to me that the essence of the Eucharist is an invitation rediscover the reality of Christ’s presence in every part of our lives, in our liturgies, in our communities and in all our relationships.

As we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi where do you recognise the reality of Christ’s presence in your life?