20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2018
Last Wednesday, August 15, we celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary. A “dogma” of our faith, we Catholics believe that at the end of the course of her earthly life, Mary was taken up into heaven body and soul.
The Gospel proclaimed at Mass that day was Luke 1:39-56; the inspiration for the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, “The Visitation.” The passage describes the reunion of Mary and Elizabeth, two women indispensable to God’s plan for salvation, and concludes with a powerful profession of faith made by The Blessed Mother. Her beautiful words, memorialized as the prayer many of us conclude our day with: The Magnificat, declares her complete surrender to God’s plan for her. Her unequivocal trust in God’s mercy and love enabled her to accept the invitation delivered by the Angel of The Lord without resistance. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit, becoming the living Ark of the Covenant…a flesh and blood Tabernacle…The Mother of God.
In the face of today’s Gospel, it is important to take a look back to the lesson which last week’s Feast Day offers. As we continue to make our way through John 6 (The Bread of Life Discourse), we need the example of wisdom, faith, and unshakable trust which we see throughout the life of The Blessed Virgin, as a counter-balance to the reaction of “the crowds” to Jesus’s declaration: I am The Living Bread that came down from heaven.
Remember, this is the very same crowd that hunted Jesus…pursued Him…hanging on His every word…eager for His healing touch. This was the same crowd of people who stood and listened to Him teach and preach to the point that they were exhausted and famished. This is the same crowd that Jesus invited to get comfortable and “recline in the tall grass,” and then, miraculously, multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread so that they could all eat their fill. And eat they certainly did. They ate until they were satisfied…and then they became dissatisfied.
The mood shifted rapidly from contentment to hesitation. (Wow! Hold on a second…what did He just say?) Then they began to grumble, murmur, and argue amongst themselves. The resistance to The Lord’s message of hope intensified. Eventually, they began to walk away.
For the very same reasons that people are backing away from The Good News today. Christian discipleship involves the kind of total commitment to God’s will and God’s way that we see in the life of Mary. How many folks do you know who are willing to make that kind of commitment? Are you?
Think of it this way: Disciples don’t just eat the food and then walk away. We can’t remain lounging around in the comfort of the tall grass. Once we are fed, we are sent out to continue to proclaim…as Mary did…our complete surrender to God’s plan for us. And God does have something important for each and every one of us to accomplish in the coming week. At the end of the course of your earthly life, will you be able to tell the Just Judge “There might have been times when I murmured and grumbled…but I never walked away”!