This practice of reflective and prayerful remembrance is also the key to understanding the confusing and disturbing challenges that all people are facing now. The pandemic is not punishment, but it is an opportunity to awaken to God.

God's Word on Sunday: Here’s an opportunity to awaken to God

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  • June 7, 2020

Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 14 (Year A) Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-59

Remembering is the key to spiritual and psychological growth. It unlocks the meaning of our experiences and gives us the gift of self-knowledge.

The Book of Deuteronomy — written in the seventh century BC — delivered some salutary lessons for the people of Israel.

The people were invited to look back and reflect on their collective history. They were not passive victims. All of their struggles and sufferings had meaning and purpose.

God was educating and forming the people, teaching them about themselves and about their relationship with God. They were repeatedly humbled by God and challenged to know their own hearts.

The goal was to make them realize that people do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

“Word” in this context refers to the creative will and energy of God, expressed in many different ways. In other words, God wanted them to realize that it was not their show and they were not in charge. The only way they would flourish was to place all their trust and reliance in God and walk in God’s ways.

These are hard lessons to learn and are easily forgotten. Whenever they did things their own way instead of God’s, disaster followed. God reminded the people to remember the many times they had been rescued by divine grace and kindness, and the ways they had been sustained during their arduous and perilous journey.

The story of Israel is also the story of the journey of the soul. If we examine our own lives carefully and honestly, we will see that we were given countless opportunities and challenges to grow in harmony with God’s will for us. We will also recognize the many blessings we have been given, even though they may not have seemed so at the time.

This practice of reflective and prayerful remembrance is also the key to understanding the confusing and disturbing challenges that all people are facing now. The pandemic is not punishment, but it is an opportunity to awaken to God. It might teach us to value relationships and community more than possessions and success.

Taking a hint from the unexpectedly clean environment that the past few months have brought us, we might try to live more simply and healthily. And most of all, we might learn of the inequalities and injustices that are embedded in our societies and economic systems.

Let us remember the many kindnesses of God, but also the way of life to which we have all been called.

Paul reminded his followers of the supreme kindness and blessing of God in the form of the body and blood of Christ. But this gift is not given to each as a private possession — it is a gift to God’s people.

It unites us in mind and heart — at least it should if we receive it with the right attitude. Since Jesus shares Himself with us, we share ourselves with one another. It is a sacrament of solidarity with one another and with our world.

Jesus had some shocking words for His followers and many left Him as a result. He insisted that only by eating His body and drinking His blood could they have life in them and be raised up on the last day.

His words can be interpreted on different levels. The backdrop was the way that God sustained the Israelites in the desert with manna. But that was temporary, for they hungered again.

Jesus brought a type of sustenance that was permanent and eternal — Himself.

Jesus should not remain merely an object of worship. To truly follow Jesus is to allow Him to sustain and nourish us in every aspect of our lives. He must become part of who and what we are, just as food and drink become part of our physical and psychological makeup.

One of the blessings of the pandemic challenge in our Church is the experience of being sustained by the Lord in many different ways. Virtual community, solidarity, deeds and words of kindness, prayer and meditation — these are all privileged encounters.

Jesus is not limited by the walls of a church or the rubrics of a ritual — the entire world is His and He can be encountered in diverse ways and places.

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