Monday, July 27, 2009

RENEWsletter for August 2, 2009 - 18th Ordinary

Good morning renewed people--
Another week is ahead of us. How will we make it through? What can we expect from this next week? The readings for next Sunday give some guidance on how to make it through each day.

Sunday is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (already?!), and the readings are found in your Bible in...

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
Psalm 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54
Ephesians 4:17 and 20-24
John 6:24-35

...and on the web at:

Appetite! The Israelites in the First Reading had appetites for the flesh pots of Egypt. They expected to die of famine in their next week or so in the desert. And they grumbled (Ex. 16.2, 3). So God sent them meat and bread (vs. 4, 12-15). But further along in the passage we find there was a caveat! In the desert heat, the quail went bad quickly. The manna too would be wormy and rotten by the next morning. Except on the Sabbath. Then it lasted two days, and there was none to gather anyway on the Sabbath. So their physical hunger was satisfied each day for 40 years, but if they had a hunger for security or for hoarding more than they needed for the day, they were out of luck.

The psalmist wrote a song about this and we have it for our Responsorial Psalm. It is a "maskil" (a psalm that teaches you something) of Asaph and it recites the long and miraculous history of the Hebrew people. There is a pattern which that history follows: Gracious act of God - Rebellion - Divine punishment - God's mercy and forgiveness. We have here the condensed version. We keep the story alive for our children (Ps. 78.3-4). God graciously provided manna in the desert (vs. 23-24). We had plenty of heavenly food to eat (v. 25). And God brought us to the promised land (v. 54).

Paul, in the Second Reading, urges us to put away this hunger for worldly things and instead accept renewal of our minds. The old way of life is corrupted by deceitful desires (Eph. 4.22). Worldly desires are deceitful, they are hungers that are never satisfied. It doesn't matter how much manna we collect, we'll only be able to use it one day. Then it rots. It's the same story when we try to satiate our worldly desires. It may work for awhile, but the good feeling doesn't last. It becomes wormy and rotten, and we're left empty and still hungry, and probably addicted! But in renewing the spirit of our minds, we put on a new self, appetite-free and satisfied (vs. 23-24).

Christ pointed this out, as related by John in the Gospel Reading. "Do not work for food that perishes" (John 6.27). In other words, we must not expend all our energy gathering things that do not last. Instead let us hunger for Jesus who is the "bread of life" (v. 35). If we partake of the life that he offers, we will never need to go find something else. Our appetite for meaning, direction, peace, and joy will be sated. Everlastingly.

So how will we make it through this week? What should we expect? With the living bread in our hearts (v. 33), we can expect satisfaction... and peace that defies understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Exciting, isn't it? :-)

Randy Jones
"Those who cannot take one day at a time say we're all gonna starve!"

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