Fr. Raymond Gramata, Pastor
|August 2, 2015
From Your Pastor,
As we celebrate the 18th Sunday of the year many thoughts go through my mind - the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, the popularity of Pope Francis, and of course food. Let me take one at a time.
The latest issue of Faith Magazine is dedicated to the Diocesan Pastoral Plan – explaining the process and also putting it into perspective. The journey for this process is nerve wracking, because we want answers yesterday, not just now. But it is too early in the process. At the same time, we are afraid of change and the unknown, however it is indeed most exciting, looking toward the future of our Diocese. Our Diocese consists of 13 counties, each with their own unique problems, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit, many wonderful things can occur. As Betty Davis said in her film “All About Eve”, “Fasten your seatbelt. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Let us not be afraid of the ride, but look to what the future may hold for us.
A couple of weeks ago you may have heard on TV or seen in the Bradford Era that the popularity of the Pope seems to be slipping in the polls, as he prepares to come to the United States in September. Many Americans seem to “religiously” follow the polls. But Pope Francis is not about polls. He is about doing God’s work. He isn’t saying is anything new. Both Popes, Saint John Paul II and Benedict said the very same thing. They wanted to remind us that all of our actions have a ripple effect; we do not do our actions in isolation. We hear the same point of view from Saint Paul in today’s reading from Ephesians: “I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the gentiles do in the futility of their minds; … put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” What’s old is new again. Following Jesus is not a popularity contest.
The importance of food is reflected in the readings from Exodus and the Gospel of Saint John where we hear the people grumbling about food or lack of food. In both instances God takes care of the problem. In Exodus, God hears the grumbling of the people and provides both manna (bread from heaven), and quail. In the Gospel, Jesus has fed the people by multiplying the loaves and fishes. Because of that miracle, the people want to follow Him and make Him a King. Their decisions are based on their stomachs. They are saying to themselves: “Wow, look at the food He provided for us; now we will never starve, nor have to work.”
Saint John is using this passage to remind the people that were present, and us, that Jesus is the new “Manna” and is much better than the manna eaten by their ancestors. Jesus tells the people: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” What is Jesus trying to tell us? We have to look beyond the words of hunger and thirst, because we know that we still experience those sensations. Every time we celebrate mass, we are receiving the “Manna” that is Jesus. And when we receive this “Manna” that is Jesus, we carry Him with us (we become tabernacles). As we leave church
after the celebration, we carry Him with us into the world. That is why we do not hunger or thirst - because we have Jesus with us, guiding us in all that we do. To say it another way, we become what we eat. Imagine what we become, when we become one with Jesus.