In the readings for Sunday, August 12, frustration abounds, but Jesus remains faithful and gives us food for the journey.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
1 Kings 19:4-8
“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!”
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
We are in week three of a five-week breakdown of the Gospel of John, chapter 6. This chapter of the Gospel is John’s teaching on the Eucharist, and part of it is called the “Bread of Life Discourse.” It’s one of the most important pieces ever written on the Eucharist. Jesus tells us exactly what it is and what it means, and he ties it in with the feeding of the five thousand to bring home to us that the Eucharist is true food for our bodies and our spirits.
Today’s readings contain a good deal of frustration: Elijah — God’s greatest prophet ever — is ready to give up his prophetic ministry in the first reading, Paul tells us not to “grieve the Holy Spirit,” and the people who have been listening to Jesus continue to be confounded by his claims. They knew him as Joseph’s boy and the son of Mary — and they are murmuring!
Today’s second reading ties it all together so nicely. Life is frustrating at times. We want to give up at times. We want to lash out. But, Paul reminds us that no matter what awfulness comes our way, our response needs to be an imitation of Christ. We were sealed by God to be able to offer this response in any frustrating situation. Jesus gives us himself as food for our journey, and the Holy Spirit gives us the strength and ability to do it if we will just cooperate. It requires sacrifice on our part, as it did on Jesus’ part. Like Jesus, we just need to live in love.
Do you ever get frustrated and want to give up on things? What makes you frustrated? What helps you to get past it?
In the Jewish Scriptures, the Hebrews murmured (grumbled or complained) their way through the desert, and now people are murmuring at Jesus when he tells them that he is the bread of life. Do you ever murmur? Does it accomplish anything? What could be an alternate response to things that make you unhappy?
Do you ever get frustrated? Do you ever murmur? How does your prayer life and the Eucharist help you to deal with your frustrations?
Try to get through the week without murmuring (grumbling or complaining). Make a “murmur jar” and put acts of charity or kindness on slips of paper in the jar. If someone murmurs, they get a slip to counteract their grumbles with an act of charity.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”