10 April 2008 Thursday of the 3rd Week of Easter
John 6, 44-55 Getting to Know the Bread of Life
Jesus clearly says today in the Gospel, that the way to know the Father is getting to know the Son. Thus, Jesus made it easier for us to know God. All we have to do is to know Jesus. He is the greatest revelation of God, because He is God Himself. He is the tangible and visible God. In other words, the world has seen God, because it had Jesus in its history.
However, for many of us who have been born after His resurrection, it would be a challenge to know who this Jesus is. And the way to know Him is to read and listen to what people wrote about Him, especially the primary witnesses of Him. We find that in Scripture, particularly the Gospels.
This is therefore the challenge. Catholics are not thought of as People of the Word --- that is, of Scriptures. The 2nd Plenary Council of the Philippines said that we are more at home with devotions, rituals and processions. For 500 years, this has been drawing line between Catholics and our fellow Christians. Other Christians are very much familiar with the bible. However, there has been some changes within Catholic appreciation of the bible. In the olden times when the mass was in Latin, there was only one set of readings repeated year after year. Today, we came up with three cycles for Sundays (ABC) and two cycles for weekdays (Year I & II). In other words, our readings at mass cover Scripture. This development gave way to what we call a Common Lectionary (the Book of Readings), adapted now by the Lutherans, United Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterans and the United Church. This is therefore what we learned from our fellow Christians, and has made us closer to each other because we share the same love and awareness of Scripture.
And rightly so: as Christians we share the same memoria: the memory of Jesus and the stories of people of the faith. What makes us united is the common stories we share. Simple: a group of friends, a barkada, shares the same stories; family members are drawn together by a common tradition and memory; we get to know our great grandparents from the anecdotes our parents or grandparents repeatedly share to us.
The point of the homily is therefore a challenge: it is a call for many of us Catholics to become a People of the Word. Therefore, to appreciate a deeper way of praying using Scriptures. Not that we are going to abandon devotions (they should lead us towards an authentic love of Christ), but we should not forget the importance of getting to know personally and deeply Christ, who is God Himself.