Reflections for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Proverbs 9:1-6; Psalm 34:2-7; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58)

Opening Ourselves to God’s Heavenly Food 

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:9)

We can all relate to eating. We all know what hunger feels like. We all need to eat in order to survive. But it’s one thing to eat just to survive or satisfy our hunger, and it’s another thing altogether to enjoy healthy, well-prepared food. It’s the difference between fast food and a gourmet meal!

That’s why the psalmist speaks of God’s goodness as something we can taste, and talks about God’s praises being always in his mouth (Psalm 34:2). It’s why we hear of Wisdom preparing a banquet table full of understanding and the knowledge of God (Proverbs 9:2, 5)!

These meals offer us something more than just an end to our hunger. They offer us a spiritual food that will satisfy our longing for heaven itself! It’s with these thoughts in mind that Jesus offers us his body and blood as true food and drink—it’s the food that will bring us to everlasting life.

Many people take great care with the food they eat. They go to great lengths to make sure it’s healthy, nutritious, and appetizing. And that’s the way we should all care for our physical needs. But how much more important it is when it comes to our spiritual needs!

Everything we consume—whether it’s the food we put into our mouths, the words that enter our ears, or the images that come into our eyes—has the potential to nourish us or sicken us. It can strengthen us or weaken us—body and soul!

The world is full of things that can fill you, but God doesn’t want you to settle for just quenching your thirst or satisfying your hunger. Look higher. Look to what is even bet­ter, what will give you heavenly life! Saturate your mind with the word of God. Let the Holy Spirit fill you with life-giving water during prayer. And above all, receive Jesus, the bread of life, in the Eucharist! Why settle for just a hamburger when you can have a heavenly feast?

“Lord Jesus, I want to drink deeply of your life. Come, Lord, and fill my hunger with your heavenly bread!”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men

  1. In the first reading from Proverbs, we are invited by the Lord to come to his table and “eat of my food.” As we do this, we will receive wisdom, life, and understanding.  We are only asked to come in simplicity, forsake foolishness, and seek understanding – to be open to be taught by the Lord. This can occur as we come to the Lord’s Table at Mass, as we pray, and as we read Scriptures. In what ways can you make yourself more open to the Lord, especially in areas of your life that you tend to reserve to yourself, and from which God might be excluded?
  2. In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist challenges us with these words: “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be ever in my mouth.” In addition, we are called to “glorify the Lord” and “extol his name” together. The fruit of such individual and corporate worship and seeking of the Lord is deliverance “from all my fears,” a face “radiant with joy,” and a face that does “not blush with shame.”  What steps can you take to deepen your personal prayer life and worship, and to be more active in your worship at Mass and in the receipt of the Eucharist?
  3. In the second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul contrasts “foolish” and “wise” behavior.  We are told to “watch carefully how you live.”  How often do you take the time to examine your conscience or to review your day? What difference do you think a daily examination of conscience could make in your battle with the “world, the flesh, and the devil?”
  4. In the Gospel reading, how Jesus must have shocked the crowd when he talked of living forever and being raised up on the last day by eating his flesh and drinking his blood, a clear reference to the Eucharist. Through our participation in the Eucharist we too are promised that we will be raised up and live forever.  Pope John Paul II once noted that this vision of our future with God increases “rather than lessens our sense of responsibility for the world today.” We draw our very life from the Eucharist as well as our commitment to transform the world in accordance with the Gospel.  How would you describe the ways you are drawing life from the Eucharist? In addition, what part do you think the Lord is calling you to play in this transformation of the world in Christ?
  5.  In the meditation, we hear these words: “Everything we consume—whether it’s the food we put into our mouths, the words that enter our ears, or the images that come into our eyes—has the potential to nourish us or sicken us. It can strengthen us or weaken us—body and soul!” What do these words mean to you? Consider in your own life the food you put into your mouth, the words that enter your ears, and the images that come into your eyes; What are some concrete steps you can take to increase how these areas can “nourish” and “strengthen” you in body and soul, rather than “sicken” and “weaken” you?
  6.  Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to receiving “heavenly bread” from God in your times of personal prayer, in corporate worship at Mass, and in receipt of the Eucharist. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.