It is a good idea to anchor our reflection this week on some words from THE NEW TESTAMENT READING [EPHESIANS 4: 17. 20 – 24]. However, before focussing on them, there is value in trying to grasp an overall view (however brief) on the general thrust of Paul’s message to the Church in Ephesus. {In addition the following quotation may assist in a deeper understanding of many points made in the previous weeks.}

The Christ-event is (the result) of the loving initiative of God the Father in the work of salvation. … By baptism we participate in the saving mystery (and) Paul stresses the need for the baptised to correspond to, and co-operate with, God’s initiative and activity, although it is clear that even this behaviour on our part is, in reality, God’s action within us.

{LIONEL SWAIN: EPHESIANS: New Testament Message Vol. 13} (emphasis my own)

Now, the words from our reading on which to focus attention. … “I want to urge you … not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live … that is (not) the way you have learnt from Christ … Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution … put on the new self that has been created in God’s way …”

The Christian disciple cannot afford to be aimless. There should be a specific goal every single day. We have to put on the Gospel each day. It does not happen by accident, and this is why some sort of daily ‘orientation’ (prayer) is important as soon as possible before for the often hectic routinetakes control. We have to control the routine. Otherwise, the routine will control us. It will do so before we are even aware of it. Have you never noticed how the lewd, crude, vulgar, obscene, manipulative, untruthful, unfair and unjust passes freely through cyberspace – but any sort of discussion of Jesus Christ, God and Gospel is suppressed in school and work place? We must not allow ourselves to become victims of the “kind of life that pagans live.” In so many ways we must constantly involve ourselves in “a spiritual revolution.”

Otherwise, it is so easy to fall into the habit of complaining. THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [EXODUS 16: 2 – 4. 12 – 15] tells us that “the whole community began to complain against …” The progress of God’s people had, indeed, grown tough. Life and living were not easy, and the past plenty of good things had begun to dominate their thinking – “pans of meat … bread to our heart’s content.” They had lost their focus and purpose – had become aimless. In passing, let us not forget that – in time – the people would complain again, even though at this particular time the Lord’s intervention kept them on the straight and narrow.

We must be careful not to seek too literal an application of this event to our own lives. However, what remains crucial are the key words: “then you will learn that I, the Lord, am your God.” Our prayer-orientation at the start of each day is the way in which we teach ourselves this basic fact. It is the “spiritual revolution” required of us. Here it is profitablefor us to use, by analogy, the closing words from the final stanza of OUR EXTRACT FROM THE PSALMS [77 or 78].“He brought them to his holy land … which his right hand had won.” We do not keep our daily progress in focus on our own initiative or solely through our own power. WE NEED THE LORD’S RIGHT HAND WITH US.

THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 6: 24 – 35] presents us with a real challenge. Of course, these verses form part of John’s Eucharistic teaching. In Eucharist Jesus Christ is, in a most powerful, personal and intimate way, the BREAD OF LIFE.

However, these Gospel verses present us with a fundamental challenge in our approach to Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour. Jesus proclaims (accuses?!) “I tell you most solemnly, you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.”{Go back to the Exodus extract!}

WHAT IS THE SIGN OF THE EUCHARIST?

The reception (eating and drinking) of Eucharist is not the object or purpose. Rather, it is what EUCHARIST IS SUPPOSED TO DO TO US(not for us!)? The Eucharist is not a magic potion. Indeed, it is what empowers us to “work for the food that endures.”

Today Saint Paul tells us that “the truth is in Jesus.”

Never forget it.