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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Aug. 19, 2012

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

August 19, Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Proverbs 9:1-6

Psalm 34:2-7

2) Ephesians 5:15-20

Gospel) John 6:51-58

In the passage from John 6, Jesus tells his disciples that he is "the living bread that came down from heaven" and that "whoever eats this bread will live forever." Later in the discourse he says, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you." Two verses later, John tells us Jesus' disciples discussed these difficult sayings. Many of them quit following Jesus, departing in disbelief.

So might we as well, if we did not have credible witnesses to Jesus' incarnate presence. But we do have examples: the saints, contemporary heroes like blesseds Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, and even others from among our peers.

Two of my friends come to mind. One died recently. A Sister of St. Mary of Namur, Sister JoAnne had joy as her hallmark. While she worked with incarcerated youth in Houston, a brain tumor began to take its toll and subsequent surgery left Sister JoAnne in a wheelchair. But her joyful personality remained intact.

Back at the motherhouse in Fort Worth, she continued to come to prayer meetings, continued to stay in touch with her many friends by phone and continued to show the loving presence of Jesus that had always shone brightly in her.

Shirley, another friend and former columnist for the North Texas Catholic, has been afflicted with myasthenia gravis for decades. Though medications are sometimes successful in suppressing it, when in its grip, she is prevented by weakness from even holding her head erect.

In recent years, other afflictions have added to her pain, keeping her from celebrations with family and friends.

But in her sharing by email with a list of fellow Catholic writers, she offers up her pain for the suffering of others. Recently, she gave thanks that she had grown up Catholic and had been taught by the sisters to offer up her suffering on behalf of others.

Shirley and Sister JoAnne are living witnesses to the truth of the bread of life discourse. Would that we each might become such living witnesses without having to endure such pain. But we can be grateful to know that it is possible to enflesh Jesus even under the worst of circumstances.


How have others shown you that Jesus is living in them? How can you prepare for inevitable hard times in which you will be challenged to show Jesus' presence in your own life?


"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him." -- John 6:56


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