Homily – August 2018

Prov 9:1-6, St Paul to the Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58

I am not referring to your mobile phone, but I believe the scriptures today are calling us to be “3G Christians”…Graced, Grateful and Generous.

In the first reading today from the Book of Proverbs, we are introduced to the graced existence that we have in God who provides for our every need.  To truly appreciate God’s initiative of love in our lives is indeed wisdom.

The Book of Proverbs proclaims, “Wisdom has built herself a house…she has laid her table…come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared!”

Our Australian Saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop loved the word “providence.”

Here our Saint deeply appreciates that we live in a GRACED existence.  God is our true wisdom.  He provides for our every need, all our lives are expressions of His Providence to us.

Those who feel it all happens by some sort of incredible accident of nature are, according to the scriptures, “fools.”

The first reading proclaims that we are to “Leave your folly and you will live, walk in the ways of perception.”

So there is our first “G” to live the life God wants us to live…a Graced existence!

In the Gospel today, we return once again to John 6 as we will again next week.  The unambiguous image here is that Jesus is our living bread…”I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

Living in this graced existence where God himself comes to us in Jesus as our daily nourishment must raise up in our deepest depths a GRATEFUL heart.  The people Jesus talks to in the Gospel today struggle with this.  They have a very physical understanding of what Jesus is saying.  They do not appreciate the very rich symbolism of what He is saying.  We live in a similar world.  We live in a very scientific world.  If it cannot be proven by science, it does not exist!  Where is the mystery, where is the transcendence in this sort of shallow human existence!

There is a beautiful expression in the Gospel today.  “As I, who am sent by the living Father myself draw life from the Father, so whoever eats me will draw life from me.”

“Drawing life” from Jesus means that we live a life of profound gratitude and thanksgiving.  It is the only appropriate response from the provident God who graciously provides all our deepest needs.

Even in our adversities when we feel that God is absent, we truly know that God is more present than ever before, our lives are “thanksgiving lives.”

Therefore, when we come to Mass today, most of our prayers are Grateful and thanksgiving prayers.  Indeed, the very word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving.  The longest prayer in the Mass is the Eucharistic prayer.  We could call it the “thanksgiving” prayer.

Catholics tend to be very good at praying “asking” prayers, but not as good at praying “thanksgiving and praise” prayers.  Yet, these latter prayers are the highest form of prayer.  We thank God and praise God for just being God.  This comes from a Grateful heart….our second “G” in leading a Christian life.

Our third “G” in leading a Christian life can be seen in the second reading.  We are to be Generous Christians.

St Paul writing to the Ephesians says the following, “Be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, intelligent lives, not like senseless people.  This may be a wicked age we live in.  We should redeem our lives and be filled with the Spirit.”

In other words, those who live in a wicked age move towards selfishness and a narrow mindedness that only thinks about themselves and not about others, especially the vulnerable, the people on the periphery of life.

As Christ has redeemed us, we are to allow Him to use us to “redeem” others in great generosity of heart and practical charity.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit means that we put aside our selfish ways and we become Generous, just as God is Generous with, through, and in us.

There we have a “3G Christian” existence.  We thank the Lord for giving us these in today’s Scriptures and to remind us of our anchorage in the Lord Jesus.

As we now proceed with the Mass and proceed with the week ahead of us, let us always be “3G Christians” – Graced, Grateful and Generous.


1 Kings 19:4-8, Eph 4:30-5:2, John 6:41-51

Jesus is forever the Bread of Life.  In the readings today we see how Jesus moves people away from a biological understanding of bread, to the bread that He gives us as food for eternal life.

The wisdom of the Catholic teaching often says that if you want to understand the real purpose, meaning and direction of life, it is best to start at life’s end.  What is the ultimate purpose of life?  Our Catholic Tradition says that it is to enjoy the, “Beatific vision.”  This simply means that God will draw us all into His Easter presence at the Heavenly Banquet, and in communion with the God of love we will be in His presence eternally.

With this wisdom of the “Beatific vision”, we can now work backwards in our life to see where we are at the present.  Are we moving towards and giving priority to, this ultimate destiny that awaits us all, through the Mercy of God?

I recall years ago listening to an experienced parish priest.  He was talking about his visits over some months to a dying man in his family home.  On his pastoral visits he always would bring Holy Communion and pray with the dying husband, his wife and their children who would gather.

Slowly but surely, this man’s life was coming to its natural end.  In his last visit, the dying man was finding it difficult to talk and was no longer able to eat food solids or liquids.

When his wife brought the priest into the bedroom, he smiled but was unable to engage in small talk.  Although he did say to the priest, “I’m so happy that you are here Father, but what you have brought with you is now the most important thing for me and the only thing I need for the next phase of my life.”

He was talking about Holy Communion.  He understood that the Communion he was about to be given would possibly be his final, “food for the journey…to eternal life.”

In our Catholic understanding we say this final Communion is called “Viaticum.”  This dying man certainly knew that his physical death was fast approaching but the door to eternal life was also fast opening.  He really knew his priorities by this stage!

In the First Reading today, there is a biological understanding of food, as essential for our earthly existence.

Elijah is travelling from the north of Israel to its south.  He is starving.  He has completely run out of energy.  He is depressed.  He “wished he were dead.”

He lay down hoping that he would die but the Lord gave him food and drink, not once but twice.  Once he regained some of his energy back he told him, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too long for you.”  So he got up and ate and drank, and strengthened by that food he walked…”  If that is what happens with earthly food for our bodily energies, how much greater does this foreshadow the eternal food that Jesus gives us for life eternal.

This is the saving reality that Jesus was trying to share with the perplexed people of His time.

In John’s Gospel, we hear a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel in regard to Jesus as the Bread of Life.  This theme in John’s Gospel will be continued over the next two Sundays.  Jesus makes the distinction between earthly food and heavenly food.  He says, “Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that a man may eat it and not die.”

Jesus then identifies himself with this food for Eternal Life.  Jesus sees himself as the food the soul needs for eternity.

In a most significant self-description, Jesus says, “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.  Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever, and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”  Even in these final words, He is starting to foreshadow His coming death on the Calvary Cross, which will be the gateway for the Lord’s saving action to bring us all into eternity.

Let us think long and hard about this basic teaching of Christianity. 

We particularly welcome today those involved in the Marriage and Family Apostolate in the Archdiocese.  We welcome all those organisations in the Archdiocese, who do what they can to involve the important teachings of married life in todays troubled world.  We particularly welcome engaged couples and newly married couples to this Mass.

For all of us, but in a special way for married couples and family life, the Eucharist must be the centre of our lives. 

It gives us the food for the wonderful but difficult life of marriage and family life, especially in our world today.

Yesterday I was down at Eden.  We had our second Archdiocesan pilgrimage in regard to Flora MacKillop, the Mother of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.

She drowned off the coast of Eden.  The people of Eden at the time showed great respect for Flora’s body.  Mary MacKillop, herself, was so grateful to the people of Eden that she promised she would send Josephite Sisters to the town.  Two Josephite Sisters are still involved in pastoral work in Eden today! 

Mary MacKillop’s life would have been unthinkable without the centrality of Jesus, the Bread of Life.  Daily Mass, wherever she could, was always a priority.  Her closeness to Jesus, the Bread of Life in the Eucharist gave her a perspective to life that was Holy and Saintly.  Particularly in the way that she forgave people and wouldn’t allow anyone to speak harshly of people, who in fact, had harsh words towards her and caused her great difficulties in her life. 

So let us now allow the Mass to lead us to Jesus, in Holy Communion.

Let us receive Holy Communion today with great fervour knowing that Jesus has given us, not just Communion for today, but indeed food for the journey of life which will lead us, through the Mercy of God, to Life Eternal.


Ex 16:2-4, 12-15, Eph 4:17, 20-24, John 6:24-35

In today’s Gospel we hear of Jesus’s teaching on the significance of the miracle of The Multiplication of Loaves and Fish.  This miracle is linked to every Mass that is celebrated.

Recall, that last Sunday’s Gospel was the spectacular and perhaps most famous of all Jesus’s miracles: The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish.

Clearly, the people were astounded by this incredible miracle worked in the presence of thousands of people.

Some of these people now seek to walk in the shadow of Jesus more fully.  They follow him around.  When they finally encounter Jesus the next day we hear of their dialogue in today’s Gospel.  Here we find Jesus, the Chief Catechist of all of us, explaining the significance of this miracle.  He dispels superficial understandings and draws us to true appreciation of our Christian humanity.

In the Gospel today, Jesus challenges the people when they finally encounter him.  He says to them, “you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.”

To give them credit, the people would have seen in Jesus’s actions of this Gospel echoes of the experiences of their forefathers.

This experience is articulated in the First Reading today from the Book of Exodus.

Here the people of God are hungry in the desert.  They complain to God.  He sends them food from Heaven in the early morning.  It is explained as “When the coating of dew lifted, there on the surface of the desert was a thing delicate, powdery, as fine as hoarfrost on the ground.”

The people ask themselves “What is that?”

In biblical languages this expression “What is that?” is translated as “Manna”.

Clearly, the people now in Jesus’s time in today’s Gospel, see Jesus as like a new Moses.  Their bellies have been filled with food.  It’s just like what happened with their ancestors. 

Jesus takes them to a deeper level all together.

He brings out the dual reality of our humanity.  Our human reality isn’t just of the present with our hungers and present day desires.  It is this, but it is far more than this.  It is also food for the journey to eternal life.

When the people Jesus is encountering in today’s Gospel hear his explanation, they still have a very physical understanding of the bread that Jesus would offer them.  They say, “Give us that bread always.”   

Jesus answers immediately with one of the most beautiful passages of the whole of the scriptures.

He says “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.”

Jesus always brings us to depth in our humanity.

He shows that the deepest hungers of the human heart can only be satisfied in him, the Bread of Life.

We are just like those people encountering Jesus in today’s Gospel.  We too must truly believe that Jesus is enough for us in the journey of life.

For this to happen Saint Paul suggests that we need a “spiritual revolution” to see our life from the eyes of Jesus and not simply our own superficial eyes.

Saint Paul says to the Ephesians “Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way.”

The spiritual revolution Jesus is calling us, is to truly believe that what happened at The Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves is not simply a miracle anchored in time but it is a miracle anchored in eternal time.

What I mean is as follows.

The miracle of the Loaves and the Fish foreshadowed that which took place at the Last Supper.  That which took place at the Last Supper also foreshadowed that which took place the next day on the Calvary Cross of Jesus.  Here Jesus becomes both the Priest and victim.  He becomes the Bread of Eternal Life with his body broken and His blood shed for us as spiritual food for the journey of life.  This first Calvary is also foreshadowed in every Mass that we celebrate.  The Mass continues the sacrifice of Calvary.

So surely an aspect of this “spiritual revolution” is to see that when we come to Mass we are actually participating in the ongoing miracle of the Loaves and Fish, anchored in time 2,000 years ago but now ongoing in its re-presentation in the Mass and in every Mass until we meet Jesus face to face at the end of time.

What a wonderful Sacramental reality this is!  It is not just simply the Priest or the Bishop who is celebrating the Mass.  They are celebrating the Mass in the person of Christ.  It is Christ himself, indeed, who celebrates each and every Mass.  It is Christ himself who feeds us with not only food for the present but food for eternity.

This is why the Eucharist is always the central feature of our Catholic belief.

Let us now enter into the Mass with fresh eyes and ask God to give us this spiritual revolution we really need to believe that, indeed, it is only in Jesus that the hungry heart is fully satisfied.