August 5, 2018 – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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‘So they said to Him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent.”’

As I read through the Sunday scriptures for this week, the above exchange caught my eye, and I immediately began to think about the “works of God” occupying space in my life: trying to be a good husband and father, working hard as an employee for my local parish church and school, sharing the Gospel as a member of Oddwalk, attempting to live my life as a decent human being, etc. Jesus’ response to those asking how to accomplish God’s works is so simple: ‘Believe in the one He sent’.

Of course!

Those things I listed aren’t my works, they’re God’s. God graces. God inspires hearts. God plants seeds. God moves in us. God converts. Now, God might do those things through us, but the works are God’s alone. My job is to believe in Jesus, completely, which will make me ready for whatever God might call me to do and to be. The readings this week give us a few examples of different groups of people learning to really believe, to be people of unquestioning faith.

In the first reading, we find an Israelite community who had initially trusted Moses to lead them to the Promised Land. Now, though, they are hungry and fearful that they will all die in the desert. In response, God sends them what the Responsorial Psalm refers to as “bread from heaven”. By doing so, God not only sustains them for their journey, but reminds them that they are indeed God’s chosen people, never to be forsaken. In response, the psalm-writer gives praise for God’s ‘glorious deeds’, ‘his strength’, and ‘the wonders that he wrought’.

Our second reading finds Paul telling the Church in Ephesus that those who have ‘learned Christ’ ‘should put away their old self’ and ‘be renewed in the spirit of your minds’, ‘created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.’ Translation: those who have been transformed in God can never be what they once were. God makes us new! I’m sure the Israelites would have said the same thing. How could they have possibly have gone back to the people they were prior to receiving bread from heaven?
Lastly, we have the Gospel from John, in which Jesus tells the crowd, ‘Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life’. He later reveals that He, Jesus, is that bread, the bread that came down from heaven, ‘the bread of life’. He continues: ‘whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’ Jesus is everything we need!

Living a Christian life is not easy. Thankfully, we aren’t expected to live it alone. Our Lord is with us every step of the way, to walk with us, guide us, and sustain us with His Body and Blood.

Any Given Sunday Project ©