Saturday, 8 August 2015

Anyone who eats this bread will live forever (9.8.15)

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome to a little liturgy.  If you have not visited the blog before please click here to find out what it's about.  This week I thought we might begin to address transubstantiation and explore how we think about everlasting life.  There is also a brief reference to the current debate about assisted suicide at the end of today's blog, as I think it is important to discuss ethical issues from a young age.  However, I have put it at the end as I am aware that some children may not be ready for such a discussion.

Summary of Liturgy of the word

First Reading
Kings 19:4-8
Elijah is fed up and wishes that he were dead. He says "Lord, I have had enough.  Take my life."  God responds by sending an angel and giving him bread and water.

Psalm 33
Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Second Reading
Ephesians 4:30-5:2
St Paul urges us to be kind to each other and not to hold grudges.  We must treat each other as God treats us with forgiveness and love.

John 6:41-51
People were complaining about Jesus and said that he was boasting because of his words "I am the bread that came down from heaven".  They said that he was Jesus, son of Joseph and could not have come from God.  Jesus tells them that people are drawn to him by the Father and that "everybody who believes has eternal life".  He says that he will give his flesh as living bread for the life of the world.


There are some very complex ideas presented to us in today's Gospel.  Jesus says "the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world".  The apostles found it difficult to accept the idea that the bread Jesus offered was his own flesh.  Certainly, it seems an extraordinary claim and even a little unpleasant.  Over the last two thousand years, there has been much debate about how these words should be interpreted.  Catholics believe that the bread and wine offered at Mass actually becomes Christ's flesh and blood and that in receiving Holy Communion we receive the body and blood of Christ.

Perhaps even more difficult to understand is Jesus' promise that anyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood will live forever.  We know that one day we will die but we believe that there is a better life to come which we can experience with God.  To be Christian is to believe that Christ died and rose again so that we can enjoy a life with God after death.  It is not easy to understand how this might happen because we have a very limited view of our existence.  One way that we can grow in understanding is to focus closely on Biblical passages, like this one from St John's Gospel, and pray and discuss things with our friends and family.


Today we hear the story of Elijah.  Draw a picture for each part of the story:

1.  Elijah sat exhausted under a furze bush.

2.  Elijah complained to God.

3.  An angel appeared and gave Elijah bread and water.  

4.  Elijah ate and drank.

5.  Elijah was strengthened and walked a long way to reach Horeb.

Now consider the Jewish people at the time of Jesus:  

1.  They felt oppressed by the Romans.

2.  They grumbled and were waiting for a Messiah to set them free.

3.  Jesus was born into the world.

4.   He gave his flesh and blood at the Last Supper and on the cross.

5.  The early apostles followed Jesus and built his Church.

Now consider ourselves:

1.  We can get disheartened by life and doubt our faith.

2.  We can grumble and complain about the Church and our lives.

3.  We are baptised and become part of the Church.

4.  We take part in the sacraments and receive Holy Communion.

5.  We are encouraged and strengthened to follow Christ to eternal life.

Extra materials

This week we hear that Elijah is fed up and wants to die.  God does not let him; he still has a plan for him.  This reading provoked me to think about the current debate around assisted suicide and to introduce the topic in family discussion.  

The article below might be a helpful starting point but please vet it first before reading with your child as it addresses some sensitive issues.

Kids Britannica article on Euthanasia

For adults, there are some informative views about the debate expressed here and here.

I hope you have found something helpful in this week's a little liturgy.


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