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from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

We find ourselves in week two of our message series: “Invited!” Please spend some time praying through John 6, the Bread of Life  Discourse, as we journey together over these weeks (July 25 to Aug 22). If you miss a message, they are available on our website (www.olphparish.com) in the video archives.

How do you feel after a big meal? Ready to sit for a long and important teaching? Probably not. For my part, I struggled to focus most in the classes directly before and after lunch. Before lunch, gnawing hunger and after lunch, heavy eyelids kept me from paying close attention.

This week we are on the other side of the sea. Jesus and the disciples have crossed in the night after Jesus fed the 5000. Now the night has passed and while he would like to move on to deeper teaching, the crowds goad him for more signs, and full bellies. They even call to mind the miraculous bread from the desert, manna, eaten by the chosen people as they journeyed from slavery to freedom. The manna was quite mysterious. It arrived with the dew in the morning. When the moisture evaporated thin flakes could be harvested from the ground. God provided for his people on their journey.

Our theme this week is “Invited to Fulfillment!” We recognize that when Jesus teaches “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never hunger and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” Jesus is fulfilling in a radical new way the promise of the manna but what Jesus seeks to give them is “the food that endures for eternal life,” not one they have to gather each morning with the dew.

Regarding the motif of fulfillment, several times in John’s Gospel, people seek for one thing - for what they think they want - but are given something much more. Consider  the woman at the well. She comes for water and meets one who promises her living water. Or in the  account of Lazarus, while his sisters profess belief in Christ and the resurrection, they are floored to regain their brother, alive after four days in the tomb. In both cases, the encounter with Jesus leads to faith, conversion and more than what was ever thought possible. God fulfills our deepest needs, our deepest hungers, beyond our imaginings and in ways unforeseen.

It is to new life in Christ that we are truly invited. Fulfillment is one of the qualities of this new life. Paul encourages the Ephesians to the same reality with different words. He tells them “You should put away the old self of your former way of life….and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self…” (Eph 4:22-24) We can say that this new self is one that understands and believes truly that Jesus is the Bread of Life, whereas the former self is like the old Israel still hoping for God to feed them with manna in the desert. Granted, the manna was a wonderful miracle for its time. And it was deeply instructive, training the people of Israel to depend not on themselves but on the Lord. As Christians we are invited to deeper fulfillment by our dear Jesus and a whole new set of wondrous promises.

Yours in Christ our Lord,
Fr. Wilson