For Sunday, August 16, 2015, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
When it comes to anniversaries, this August has been particularly poignant.
Within a few days of each other, we’ve noted the seventieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, the one-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the one-year anniversary of the invasion of northern Iraq by the Islamic State, displacing tens of thousands of Christians and other minorities. The toll these events have taken on the human spirit, and the scars they have left on human history, are extensive and deep. Consequently, this has been a time for reflection and resolve, a moment for taking stock.
Sister Maria Hanna, the prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq, was one of many who had to flee last August when ISIS stormed through her home town of Quaraqosh in Iraq. She and her sisters were forced to settle in Erbil, living in tents or abandoned buildings while attempting to rebuild their lives and those of other refugees. She wrote recently: “This memory impels us to pray to the Lord, so that we might be enlightened to understand his will for our lives during this crisis.”
By coincidence, or Providence, we are commemorating these events at a time when the Sunday Gospels ask us to reflect on St. John’s Bread of Life discourse, the challenging and enigmatic verses that teach about how Christ feeds those who hunger—and does it in ways we might not easily understand. The Gospels offer insight not only into the Eucharist, but also into God’s own ceaseless love for his creation. Whatever our needs, whatever our hungers, God provides.
At this moment, reflecting on the events we are commemorating, we might take time to remember in an especially prayerful way some hungers that even now need to be met.
There is the hunger for peace, in a world devastated by war.
There is a hunger for justice, in places torn apart by mistrust and hate.
There are the ongoing hungers of the human family for safety and security and understanding and hope.
The Gospel reassures us that our very human hungers—yearnings that go beyond mere cravings for food—are met in the person of Jesus Christ. That is ultimately what the Bread of Life discourse seeks to teach us.
Are we open to hearing that message and taking it to heart? Are we ready to be fed with that Bread of Life?
Dcn. Greg Kandra
O God, Creator of the universe, who extends your paternal concern over every creature and guides the events of history to the goal of salvation, we acknowledge your fatherly love when you break the resistance of mankind and, in a world torn by strife and discord, you make us ready for reconciliation. Renew for us the wonders of your mercy; send forth your Spirit that he may work in the intimacy of hearts, that enemies may begin to dialogue, that adversaries may shake hands and peoples may encounter one another in harmony. May all commit themselves to the sincere search for true peace which will extinguish all arguments, for charity which overcomes hatred, for pardon which disarms revenge.
—Prayer for Peace by St. John Paul II