Reflections for the Week of Sunday August 26 2018 Fourteenth of Pentecost

Gospel: John 6.56-69. Jesus says His flesh and blood are food and drink. Some of the disciples couldn’t accept it. But Jesus says, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless” (v. 63) Jesus asks the twelve if they wish to go away? But Simon Peter answered, “Lord to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”

The  biblical narrative is like a five act play about man’s and God’s relationship. 1) God creates man in Paradise in loving relationship to rule the creation. 2) Adam and Eve disobey God breaking the relationship. 3) God calls Abram to begin his family, Israel,  to restore His relationship with man. 4) Jesus of Nazareth is born fully man and fully God to bring to a successful climax the history of Israel. 5) We now live in the new creation , the kingdom of God, where Christ is king of the world, believers’ receive His Spirit, sins are forgiven and man’s loving relationship with God is restored, the satan is defeated. We live in the fifth act and as we say in the post-communion prayer ”…Now, Father, send us out to do the work You have given us to do; to love and serve You as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord…” This prayer is based on Eph 2.10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The “work” is to bring to reality the kingdom of God which in the present age is the invisible church, the body of Christ of  which believers are members, and heirs of His eternal kingdom. Made in the image of God, male and female, believers comprise a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness, into His wonderful light (1 Pet 2.9). As a royal priesthood, “His own special people”, believers are to shine God’s light into the dark world in terms of love, justice, peace, and forgiveness as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. Human beings who have grown up into the likeness of Christ represent Him in this world while He as the true human being occupies the throne with the Father in heaven. And we are to reflect back to God the praises of His creation, including His people, who are bringing in His kingdom. Believers in Jesus, who is God (Rm 9.5), and in His resurrection are to live as reflections of Jesus, the model of true humanity, to inaugurate God’s kingdom in this fallen world. The Spirit will help His people know how they are to accomplish this world-wide kingdom made up of fallen people who have been adopted into God’s family, forgiven of their sins, and made new people through the Spirit. They have imparted to them, not least through the Holy Eucharist of His body and blood at least weekly, the love , forgiveness, vision, and spiritual power to fulfill this daunting work. They surely feel  unworthy, but Christ believes they are worthy and has staked His kingdom on this belief. His people are given to understand their calling by the Spirit, and the power to love and forgive as He did. Believes are called to lay down their lives, as He did, and as His disciples did, to continue to extend His kingdom. The kingdom is not complete in this present age but will be completed in the age to come when the old earth and heaven will pass away and the new heaven and earth will come down out of heaven, from God, as the new Jerusalem prepared like a bride adorned for her husband (Rev 21,1,2).

Memory Verse: Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Lk 9.23).

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