Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter - The Obedience of Faith

Jesus said to the crowds: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world."

Introductory Prayer: Lord I believe in you. I believe that you see me and hear me. I believe in your love. I know that you love me, for nothing else explains your death on the cross and the gift of yourself in the Eucharist. Help me to return love for love. Help me to love as you love, and to love those whom you love. 

Petition: Lord, increase my faith in your presence in the Eucharist and in my life.

1. Approaching the Father. We continue our reflections on the Bread of Life discourse. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him.” God freely created us. There was no motive other than his love. We are not necessary to creation. God could have gotten along fabulously well if we had never been born. But he chose to give us life, not out of need or necessity, but out of love. He created us to be with him for all eternity. When we became lost in sin, he began to draw us to himself. We begin our search for God only because he draws us to himself. He gives us the grace of conversion both to start the journey of our spiritual life and to continue to get up each and every time we stumble into sin along the way. Often we think of our spiritual life as something we do, but it is more of what God does in us. God works within us to draw us to himself. He sends us his lights, insights into his love and his plan for our life. He sends us holy desires to break with sin and live for him.  

2. Receiving Eternal Life. “Whoever believes has eternal life.” God calls us to an obedience of faith. He reveals his love and his plan in the Scriptures. There he speaks to us. He reveals his love and his plan for our salvation through the sacrifice of his Son. He asks us to believe with the obedience of faith, with coherence of life. “To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to ‘hear or listen to’) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself…. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 144). Faith requires free submission of our will to God. We lovingly do what God asks of us. This is why Mary is the perfect model of faith. She didn’t understand everything, but she knew and loved God. She did what he asked of her; she gave herself to him to become the mother of God. 

3. Flesh for the World. “The bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.” Jesus is speaking of the mystery of the Eucharist, of his real presence. He has been speaking of the bread of life that comes down from heaven. He can only be speaking of himself, for no one else has come down from heaven. He spoke of giving them the bread of life. Now he clarifies that this bread is his flesh. It is not simply a symbol or an image of another reality. The Eucharist is his flesh. He is present and gives himself to us because he loves us; self-donation is the form of love. 

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, help me to believe in your love. I know that you love me, but sometimes the cares of life and all my activities chase this thought from my mind. I forget and get wrapped up in passing things. Help me to return to you. Help me to love as you love. I can’t live without love. Help me to give myself to you today in all of my activities. When I’m with others, help me to love you in what I say and do, and in how I act. Let my love be practical and concrete.

Resolution: I will choose one act of charity to do for someone today.

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