18th Sunday OT:
2 weeks ago I bought a new GPS navigating system for my car. I'm convinced that these are among the coolest inventions ever. What did we ever do before that mechanical lady inside that box that tells me where to go? It won't be long until our kids will have never heard of maps before…
When I opened the box there was a "quick-start guide" inside. You probably know what I'm talking about, this guide gives the bare essentials that you need in order to operate the machine. You have to plug it into the car, you have to turn it on, you have to hit the button and enter an address, etc. This quick start guide might not answer every question that I could possibly ask, but it gives the minimum you need to get going.
Parents, wouldn't it be nice if kids came with these quick start guides? Helpful little guides that tell you how to operate these little ones. But, of course, babies don't come with quick start guides. If they did, what would it say? Congratulations on your purchase of a new human being. This man or woman will provide decades of entertainment, worry, grief, and satisfaction. To begin, please ensure that the person is able to breathe. Avoid extreme temperatures. Be sure to give water and food at regular intervals: note: growing teenage football players require much more food… The human person responds well to love and affection… This would be a good start. These are our basic human needs: air, water, food, love.
Today in the gospel we hear about these basic human needs: we hear about thirst, we hear about hunger. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, whoever believes in me will never thirst. In other words, Jesus is reminding us of another basic human need. Jesus is pointing out to us that there is a deeper hunger, a deeper thirst. Jesus Christ is the word through whom was made the universe. If anyone is in position to write that quick-start guide on the human person it is he. We all know and recognize that we hunger and thirst for food and water, but are we always conscious of that hunger and thirst for God present in the heart of every human person. Do we recognize our need for Christ? Do we think of our relationship with him as being more important than food or water?
Paul tells us how to do this in the second reading. He says, the truth is in Jesus. We find in him the answer to the question that is at the heart of our existence: we were made for communion with God. Next, we grow in that communion by putting away the old self, putting away our former lives, turning away from sin and all that ugliness and darkness. Renew the spirit of your minds: turn to Jesus, ask him for his presence in your lives. Renewing our minds is nothing other than inviting God to live within us, to guide our thoughts, feelings, and actions. So we can put on the new self who was created in righteousness and holiness. We might not have that quick start guide, but if we did, righteousness and holiness would probably be listed as the ultimate goal for every human person. We were made with this goal in mind: to love and serve God so that we could be with God forever, to be righteous and holy. And just like we cannot live without food and water, we cannot live without Christ in our lives.
I am the bread of life, Jesus says. We turn now to the Holy Eucharist, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus poured out for us. Right here from this altar we will receive the bread of life. Together we can all make the words of St. Paul our prayer: Lord as I receive you in the Holy Eucharist help me to put away my former life of sin, renew my mind, help me to put on the new self so that I might serve your forever in righteousness and holiness…