Pretty much every day, the hardest decision I have to make is which reading to choose for my daily reflection from the three daily readings: one from the old testament, one from the new testament “non-Gospel” books, and one from the Gospels.
I found a “hook” to connect the two readings from the New Testament, so, phew!, we’ll do that for today.
FIRST NT READING: LIVING IN THE ‘FUTILITY’ OF YOUR MIND
Sounds ominous…and it is, because it’s all about whether a person is essentially living “in the flesh” or “in the Spirit of God”…whether one has a “meaningful end,” living a “senseless” life because, as the core meaning of the Greek word that is translated into English as “futility,” it is TRANSITORY.
The dictionary meaning of transitory is instructive in this context:
Pagans live without knowing the real purpose for which they come into existence as human beings on earth, oblivious to the Will of God that “all human beings be saved,” and having sent His only Son Jesus into the world to do just that, by revealing God’s existence and mighty power over sin, corruption and death, and His great mercy and love for us, His children and the Way we can live for eternity in God.
“…that is not how you learned Christ.”
This is important: we don’t learn ‘about’ Christ so much as we learn Christ – “learn” how to become like Jesus – by loving Him and knowing His love for us – we know Jesus by seeing Him and believing in Him; we Understand Jesus when we hear His Words and acquire the Wisdom and Understanding He receives from the Father’s Will, God the Almighty, from whom all good things come, and from whom His only begotten Son proceeds, manifesting His fullness in perfect union with the Father, in the Holy Spirit.
Paul further clarifies the nature of living in the “futility of your mind,” by referencing the Ephesians’ former Pagan life, and equating that futility with “deceitful desires”:
“…you should put away the old self of your former way of life,
corrupted through deceitful desires,
and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
and put on the new self,
created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
The last comment on the first New Testament reading is on the translation of the Greek word “nous” into mind. “Mind” doesn’t do justice to the intended meaning which is really “Understanding”, which resides in the heart, not our “thinking”.
To attain the understanding of Jesus is to abide in His Sacred Heart with all the desire of our Heart – holy “desire” (singular) rather than “deceitful desires” (plural – because a purposeless spirit is always seeking new pleasures because no transitory pleasure or experience satisfies the human soul’s innate longing for completion in God).
The Greeks had a lot of words for “mind” and different types of thinking, but the Hebrew people of God had no word for “mind,” because everything was done in the “heart” – with the doing either being in obedience or disobedience to God and God’s law.
That “organ” is what we refer to as our “heart” as in, “put your whole heart into it…” and by heart is meant in the context of the NT reading for today, that renewal means embracing what is said in the first Commandment, to give one’s heart or “nous” to God completely – a “single”-hearted desire encompassing one’s entire life and all one’s strength.
SEEKING “EARTHLY, TRANSITORY “BREAD” – NOT GOOD
SEEKING “BREAD FROM HEAVEN” THAT GIVE US ETERNAL LIFE – GOOD
I’ll just present one of today’s Gospel for your reflection, with a short synopsis:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
you are looking for me not because you saw signs
but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Do not work for food that perishes
but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you.
For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”
So they said to him,
“What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Synopsis: Jesus was essentially telling them in a nice way, “you’re nothing but a bunch of pagans” (see St. Paul -earlier reflection) searching aimlessly because you don’t know what you’re looking for, always consuming, but never satisfied. He tells them that “He is the Bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” and in response to their question on what “working for that kind of bread” entails, Jesus gives one, simple answer: “A change must be made (that “renewing” of your Nous – “heart” – with us saying “goodbye” (repentance) to the old self, and “hello” to the new life in the Spirit, by taking on the thoughts, desires and actions of Jesus, in imitation of Him and in faithful obedience to God.
“Jesus, teach us that to truly know you is to receive your Holy Spirit and abide in your Sacred Heart. To understand you is to listen to you and learn all you share from the Father as our friends, bringing us into your life and your work, which is the tell others about the great gift of eternal life in God – to call them from the aimless sadness and despair of aching for peace and joy and finding only turmoil and guilty pleasures that fade like grass in the scorching sun.
Father, give us this daily our daily Bread, which is Jesus, the Divine Bread that comes down from heaven in the Holy Eucharist, feeding us with His very own body and blood. Jesus: the sustainer of hearts and souls and the greatest blood donor the world has (or will ever) know, pouring eternal life without reserve in a torrent of mercy into our spiritual veins, and setting us on the road to heaven.
Give us your Holy Spirit this day so our will becomes the Will of Jesus as we follow His teachings in obedience, and His Will is always your Will, so help us to listen, learn and then love like Jesus so we might give you glory by manifesting you to others through the accomplishment of your will in us.” Amen.