“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”

Sunday’s readings from John 6 (vv. 24-35) continue today.  The crowds, having just been miraculously fed, look for Jesus and find Him.  Jesus tells them that they pursue Him because He satisfied their physical hunger not because they are concerned about eternal life.  Then they ask the question above.  Jesus answers that they must believe in Him.  They retort by asking for a sign, pointing to the episode of the manna in the desert.  Jesus responds that He is the true bread from heaven and those who partake of Him will no longer thirst or hunger.  The initial question from the crowd is a good one for us to ask as well.  What is it that we, personally, are not only asked to do, but required to do (cf. Lk 17:10)?  The best place to start is to heed Jesus answer to the multitude: Believe in Him, who was sent by God.  But what does it mean to believe?  It is not a simple mental/intellectual, vocal, or emotional affirmation.  Belief entails embracing Christ’s teachings and living them out with increasing obedience and fervor every day.  If we believe that Jesus is God, our Lord and Savior, then we cling to His Word and want nothing more than to live it perfectly (cf. Mt 5:48).  Our greatest aid in doing this is the worthy reception of the sacraments, especially Holy Communion.  This is precisely what we are leading up to with these readings.  Today’s reading begins the Bread of Life Discourse which places as strong an importance on the Eucharist as anywhere in the Bible.  The power to accomplish the works of God comes through grace.  The sacraments are the ordinary means in which we receive these graces.  The more worthy we are in partaking of the sacraments, especially the sacrament par excellence, the Eucharist, the more capable we are of advancing the Kingdom.  We should receive the Lord in the Eucharist as often as possible, disposing ourselves properly for this gift through frequent prayer, mortification, and sacramental confession.  Then we will have the ability to best heed the closing words of Mass: Ite missa est: the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives” (CCC 1332).

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