The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
August 19, 2018 – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - John 6:51-58
What was it like to have really known and been close to Jesus as he walked the dusty roads of Galilee? Or shared a meal with him at a family home in a small village? Or to have been with him on the stormy waters of Lake Galilee? Through the four gospels we learn about many of the ups and downs experienced by Jesus and with Jesus during those years that are called his public life. And those gospels were written not just to give an historical description of the more important moments of his life, but to introduce later Christians to the one who continues to be among them.
Yes, Jesus really died a terrible death on the cross. And, yes, Jesus rose from the dead. But an often-overlooked fact is that Jesus continues to live among us.
He is present in the celebration of the Eucharist. He is present in the words of inspired Scripture. He is present in the church as a community of disciples – a designation that applies to all of us. He is in the care and the concern and the love we have for each other. He is there in family love. In the love between friends. He is present whenever good is done, especially for those in great need. That means he is there in the care for the sick of mind or heart, of spirit or body. Recall some of his last recorded words in the gospels: Whatever you do for the least, you do for me.
So, the obvious question is this: If Jesus is present in so many situations and places, do we recognize him there? This month we are reading from John’s Gospel that speaks of Jesus as food for our lives, as bread and wine made into his flesh and blood, which is given to us so that we can grow closer to him. The point being this: Jesus wants to be part of our lives, to be friends with us. He wants us to follow him and he follows us wherever we go.
There was a time in the Catholic Church (maybe fifty years ago) when there was very little mention of Jesus Christ. It was as if he lived on earth almost two-thousand years ago, but after his resurrection and ascension, he went to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. There he sits and here we are on earth. Separated. Isn’t that what we recite in the Creed each Sunday?
But then church leaders and theologians and biblical scholars began to shift their understanding of Jesus. And in passages like today’s gospel they saw that Jesus is still with us – in a way different from how he was long ago, but still with us. So, where do you encounter him or sense his presence? He definitely sees you.
©David M. Thomas, PhD