21st Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 60-69)

After hearing his doctrine many of the followers of Jesus said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, ‘Does this upset you? What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before?

‘It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
The words I have spoken to you are spirit
and they are life.

‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the outset those who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. He went on, ‘This is why I told you that no one could come to me unless the Father allows him.’ After this, many of his disciples left him and stopped going with him.

Then Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘What about you, do you want to go away too?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God.’


Fr James Martin SJ writes:  “In today’s Gospel, some of the disciples leave Jesus at a critical time, even after the miracles. Yet when Jesus asks Peter if he will abandon him, Peter says: “Master, to whom shall we go?” Peter wanted to be with Jesus, and the others, even in the tough times.  Peter would fail in this during the Passion, but then he was forgiven by the Risen Christ, and remained faithful until the end of his life, throughout the darkest times.”

Lord, help us to stay with you, especially when things get tough.





From 7–9 September, 10,000 pilgrims from across England and Wales will come to Liverpool for the first national Eucharistic Congress to be held by the Roman Catholic Church in this country for 110 years – the last one was in London in 1908. Pilgrims will meet at the Echo Arena and Convention Centre on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 September before two Pilgrim Masses are celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on Sunday 9 September, followed by a Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral.

A Eucharistic Congress is a gathering of clergy, religious and laity to promote an awareness of the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church.

On Friday 7 September, the pilgrims will hear presentations on the Eucharist in the life of the Church and how this is seen in various situations, including hospitals and prisons, through social justice and ecumenical relations, and in education and music.

On Saturday 8 September, the main speaker will be Bishop Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of ‘Word on Fire’ Catholic Ministries. Internationally renowned Bishop Barron uses the tools of new media to promote the Catholic faith. Following his address, the themes of the Congress will be explored through drama, testimony and presentations.

There will be two Pilgrim Masses in the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 9 September: at 9.30 am with Archbishop Malcom McMahon as the celebrant, and at 11.30 am with Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrating and Archbishop McMahon preaching. The Congress will conclude with an outdoor Eucharistic Procession through the streets surrounding the Cathedral and Benediction.

Alongside the main Congress there will be a Youth Congress for 1,000 young people in the Echo Arena Auditorium on Saturday 8 September. The main speaker will be international educator and author, Katie Prejan-McGrady, from Louisiana. For more information:  www.adoremusyouth.co.uk

In addition to the main events, a parallel programme of 27 different events has been organised in churches and other venues close to Liverpool City Centre. Details of all the Parallel Events: www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus

Full information on the Congress: www.catholicnews.org.uk/adoremus2018

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 51-58)

Jesus said to the crowd:
‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’


To Ponder

In this Sunday’s Gospel,
Jesus invites those around him to believe in him;
to be in communion with him;
to live in him and draw life from him
just as he himself draws life from the living Father.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them.


O God,
who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
Through Christ our Lord.



The Eucharist is a challenge to become what we receive

St Augustine said, “you become what you receive.” By this he meant that when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion we become the very Body of Christ ourselves. We become, in the words of St Teresa of Ávila, the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today.

The ‘Amen’ we respond with at the moment of Holy Communion is an act of faith in the great mystery of the Eucharist – this is no longer bread or wine, this is now the Body and the Blood of Jesus himself. But it is also our ‘Amen’ to being the Body of Christ in the world. We say, “Yes I will be the love and the care of Christ to all whom I meet.”

Pope Francis

“Celebrating the Eucharist should make a difference in the way a parish community lives. At Mass, Christ gathers people around him “to nourish us with his word and his life. This means that the mission and identity of the Church begin and take form there.” “A celebration could be perfect from an aesthetic point of view – it can be beautiful – but if it does not lead us to an encounter with Jesus Christ, it risks not giving any nourishment to our hearts and lives.” There must be “coherence between our Eucharist and our lives” (12 February 2014).

Prayer Moment

Pray this prayer and then pray it again replacing the word ‘yours’ with the word ‘mine’. How different does it feel?

Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world,
yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes,
you are his body.

Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582)


Illustration above by Elizabeth Wang, T-00042A-OL, ‘When we pray at Mass we are united with Christ in glory and with the gathering of his saints and the souls of Purgatory’, copyright © Radiant Light. Excerpt from the English translation of ‘The Roman Missal’ © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.

19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 41-51)

The Jews were complaining to each other about Jesus, because he had said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ ‘Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph’ they said. ‘We know his father and mother. How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’ Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop complaining to each other.

‘No one can come to me
unless he is drawn by the Father who sent me,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets:
They will all be taught by God,
and to hear the teaching of the Father,
and learn from it,
is to come to me.
Not that anybody has seen the Father,
except the one who comes from God:
he has seen the Father.
I tell you most solemnly,
everybody who believes has eternal life.

‘I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the desert
and they are dead;
but this is the bread that comes down from heaven,
so that a man may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’



In today’s First Reading (1 Kings 19: 4-8), the prophet Elijah is very low and on the point of giving up.  He even asks the Lord to take his life.  The Lord sends an angel to minister to him and restore his strength and hope.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes himself as ‘the bread of life’ and ‘the bread that comes down from heaven’.  Like the angel in the First Reading, Jesus gives himself to us in the eucharist to nourish us and strengthen us for life’s journey.  We need to come to him often.

I think an old Latin hymn, ‘O Esca Viatorum’, puts this well:

O food of travellers, angels’ bread,
Manna wherewith the blest are fed,
Come nigh, and with thy sweetness fill
The hungry hearts that seek thee still.

O fount of love, O well unpriced,
Outpouring from the heart of Christ,
Give us to drink of very thee,
And all we pray shall answered be.

O Jesus Christ, we pray to thee
That this presence which we see,
Though now in form of bread concealed,
To us may be in heaven revealed.




The Eucharist is a place of mercy

In the story of the Forgiving Father (or the Prodigal Son), we see the Father who welcomes his son home with open arms and with tears of joy in his eyes. No condemnation. No angry words. A feast is prepared. “Welcome home my child.” We also see the older brother standing outside, refusing to celebrate and refusing to take a place at the table with his wayward brother.

Jesus knows that sometimes we think there should be justice, not mercy. But he asks us to be people of mercy. If we are sinners who have been forgiven by God, how can we deny this to our fellow sinners? It’s at Mass that we learn what mercy looks like so that we are able to be merciful in our turn to our brothers and sisters.

Throughout his years of ministry, Jesus didn’t only talk about mercy and forgiveness, he showed it. He went to the homes of sinners and ate with them. Every Mass is a place of mercy. Jesus calls us, sinners though we are, to take our place at his table as his friends.

Pope Francis

“If we don’t feel in need of God’s mercy and don’t think we are sinners, it’s better not to go to Mass. Do you go to Mass because it’s a habit or a time to see friends or is it something more?”

“When we go to Mass, we find ourselves with all sorts of people. Does the Eucharist we celebrate lead me to consider all of them as brothers and sisters? Does it increase my ability to rejoice when they do and to weep with those who weep?”

Pope Francis said it is not enough to say one loves Jesus; it must be shown in love for those he loved. Attendance at Mass should lead to “the grace of feeling forgiven and able to forgive others” (12 February 2014).

Prayer Moment

Reflect on these words Pope Francis spoke at the end of the Year of Mercy:

“The Holy Door is now closed, but the door of mercy in our hearts continues to remain wide open. We are called to travel along the road of mercy on which we meet so many of our brothers and sisters who reach out for someone to take their hand and become a companion on the way.”

Make a promise to God to walk with someone who needs to see the face of mercy.


Illustration above by Elizabeth Wang, T-01088-OL, ‘Even in the darkness of our sufferings Jesus comforts and guides us’ © Radiant Light. Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010 International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.



18th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel  (John 6: 24-35)

When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’

Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’ So they said, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:

‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’



We hunger for many things – for love, for acceptance, for forgiveness, for healing, and so on.  Where do we go to satisfy these hungers?  Jesus invites us to come to him:  ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry’.


Living God,
we hunger for lasting life and happiness
and the fulfilment of all our hopes.
Satisfy all our hungers
through your Son, Jesus Christ, the bread of life.
And when he has filled us with himself,
may he lead and strengthen us
to bring to a waiting world
the food of reconciliation and joy
which you alone can give to the full.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.



Illustration by Elizabeth Wang, T-01038B-OL, ‘Jesus Christ comes to us in Holy Communion when we are sick or housebound’, copyright © Radiant Light. Excerpt from ‘In Bread We Bring You Lord’ by Kevin Nichols © 1976 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

The Eucharist is Jesus our healer

Now Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir’, he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once (cf. Luke 5: 12-13).

No one touched lepers. You simply didn’t do it. If you saw a leper you would do everything you could to avoid them. Not Jesus. All he sees is someone in pain, isolated and in need of a friend. Jesus reaches out to touch and to heal.

When we approach Jesus, when we come to receive Holy Communion, all the needs we carry in our hearts are touched by him. He himself comes to be the answer to our deepest needs: the answer to the prayer that we hardly know how to put into words. His power is at work inside us. Trust in his healing presence in your heart. It’s the slow action of love through Holy Communion, oneness with God that can be a source of blessing and healing throughout our lives.

Pope Francis

“The Lord surprises us by showing us that he loves us even in our weakness.” In the Mass, in our encounter with Jesus, “the Lord encounters our fragility in order to bring us back to our first calling: that of being in the image and likeness of God.” This, Pope Francis said, “is the environment of the Eucharist, this is the prayer” (15th November 2017).

Prayer Moment

Repeat this prayer… do it for yourself and then do it for others by saying “…enter under N.’s roof…”

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Pray for anyone you know who receives Holy Communion at home or pray for someone you know who is in need of the healing power of Jesus in their life.