Life in Christ – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God did not just give the Israelites bread from heaven. He also gave them flesh to eat. Christ gives us his body, blood, soul, and divinity.

Central idea and doctrine: Life in Christ. Practical application: Choosing Life in Christ.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014).

Lectionary 113.

Central idea: Life in Christ

Reading 1 Ex 16:2-4, 12-15

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
The Israelites said to them,
“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!”

Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.
Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh,
and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread,
so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

In the evening quail came up and covered the camp.
In the morning a dew lay all about the camp,
and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert
were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”
for they did not know what it was.
But Moses told them,
“This is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”

  • Moses led Israel out of Egyptian slavery to the freedom of being in a covenant with God.
  • But freedom can be scary. If you are a slave, at least your master has to feed you. Would the whole nation of Israel now perish from hunger?
  • The Lord fed them with bread from heaven, manna they could make into bread each morning. They needed to eat and they needed to see that their God was real.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

What we have heard and know,
and what our fathers have declared to us,
We will declare to the generation to come
the glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength
and the wonders that he wrought.

He commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained manna upon them for food
and gave them heavenly bread.

Man ate the bread of angels,
food he sent them in abundance.
And he brought them to his holy land,
to the mountains his right hand had won.

  • When the Chosen People were finally about the enter the Promised Land, Moses explained to them that God “humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna . . . that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3).
    • According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the remembrance of the manna in the desert will always recall to Israel that it lives by the bread of the Word of God; their daily bread is the fruit of the promised land, the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises” (CCC 1334). Food is necessary for life, but truth is even more important, especially the truth about God and man.
  • The Psalmist recalls how God led their ancestors out of Egypt and fed them with manna or “heavenly bread” in abundance until he settled them in the Promised Land.
  • Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of that great sign. In leading us from this earthly life to eternal life, God feeds us with the heavenly food of the Eucharist.

Reading 2 Eph 4:17, 20-24

Brothers and sisters:
I declare and testify in the Lord
that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,
in the futility of their minds;
that is not how you learned Christ,
assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him,
as truth is in Jesus,
that 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.

  • To be free—even in a covenant relationship with God—can seem insecure.
  • The Chosen People faced the temptation to want to return to their old way of life in which they had the security of slaves.
  • There is also for us an old way of life to which we can always return. That way is to want whatever we happen to want and to try to get what we want on our own. But what we want may not really be what we need; instead, it may actually be bad. In addition, the way we go about getting it may be ineffectual or morally wrong. That is “the futility” of our minds “corrupted through deceitful desires” that St. Paul warns against.
  • The answer is to live as the “new self, created in God’s way of righteousness and holiness of truth.”
    • It is a renewal of our minds in the truth revealed by Jesus Christ. And while our mind is not all there is to us, our mind is supposed to lead our will, and our will is supposed to govern our emotions and our passions. This is how we live this new life.
  • We need God’s help to live this new way. He gives us this help in the grace of each of the Sacraments, especially in our daily bread, the Eucharist, which is Jesus Christ himself.

Alleluia Mt 4:4b

One does not live on bread alone, but by every
word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

  • We do need material things, but they are not enough. We also need spiritual things: grace and truth and God himself.

Gospel Jn 6:24-35

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,
they themselves got into boats
and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
And when they found him across the sea they said to him,
“Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered them and said,
“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.”
So they said to him,
“What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?
What can you do?
Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven;
my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him,
“Sir, give us this bread always.”
Jesus said to them,
“I am the bread of life;
whoever comes to me will never hunger,
and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

  • The crowds behave like the merchant who found a pearl of great price or the man who found a treasure buried in a field. They are like a man in love looking for his beloved. They have discovered Jesus and want him, but they don’t really know him yet.
    • They want from him, as Jesus puts it, perishable food—which he can give them—but he can also give them imperishable food.
      • This is food that “endures for eternal life” and will fully and always satisfy hunger and thirst.
      • He himself will give it to them. This food is he.
      • He is “the bread of God . . . which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” akin to the way their ancestors received from God manna “from heaven to eat.”
    • They and we are to “work for” this food which is imperishable and which makes us imperishable. The work is to believe in Jesus Christ.

Doctrine: Life in Christ

  • As St. Paul exhorts the Ephesians, “you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds . . . [but] you should put away the old self . . . and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self.”
  • As members of Christ’s body, we now have the dignity of sharing in “God’s own nature” (CCC 1691).
  • Our faith confesses that our creation, redemption, and sanctification are God’s gifts to us. The sacraments actually communicate these gifts to us. We are now children of God. We are capable of living in this new way “by the grace of Christ and the gifts of his Spirit, . . . through the sacraments and through prayer” (CCC 1692).
  • What is this new way? It is to be like Christ Jesus who “always did what was pleasing to the Father, and always lived in perfect communion with him” (CCC 1693).
  • We are to be “‘imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love’ by conforming [our] thoughts, words and actions to the ‘mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus,’ and by following his example” (CCC 1694).
    • This is to say, we no longer live according to the futility of our old minds, seeking whatever we want in whatever way we can get it.
    • Rather, we try to do what Christ wants in the way he carried out his Father’s will.
    • And what does Christ want us to do? He wants us to live the same agape, the same self-sacrificial love, that he lived.
  • This new way is possible because “Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit heals the wounds of sin, enlightens and strengthens us to live according to goodness and truth, teaches us how to pray to the Father, and prompts us to practice charity. (CCC 1695)
  • Yet we remain free and so our moral decisions are important for our salvation. They lead to either our salvation or our destruction. (CCC 1696)

Practical application: Choosing life in Christ

  • For all of us who say we are Catholics, there seem to be three options available to us when it comes to how we lead our lives.
  • The first way we can lead our lives is to do whatever seems good to us. This is attractive, but our old selves make us prone to want what is not good and to act badly to get it. This is the way of the “cafeteria Catholic” who picks and chooses doctrines of faith or morals to embrace or reject. However, the analogy that says the faith is like a cafeteria is not the best because everything in a cafeteria is actually food and drink, while our rejection of Catholic faith and morals may be deadly poison. Recall that our moral decisions lead to either salvation or destruction (CCC 1696).
  • The second way we can live is the way of obligation. We try to do everything the Church asks of us out of obedience to obligation. We go to Mass because the Church says we have to. We go to Confession because we are supposed to. We don’t commit some sin because we are afraid of going to hell. This is good but insufficient.
    • It may be very good for us to put ourselves under obedience as a good discipline to get our lives in order.
    • Sometimes our emotions and passions incline us to all kinds of evil and so we do what our faith and reason tell us is right, even though our desires say something else. This is rejecting the “old self.”
  • The third way we might live is perfect. It is doing what the Blessed Trinity wants us to do, freely, as a child of God, assisted by the abundant graces we receive in the Sacraments and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is living as a friend of God.
    • This third way can apply to everything we do all day long every day. It can be phrased as, “I choose to do X because I am God’s friend.” This is choosing life in Christ.

The Homiletic Directory offers the following Catechism points and themes for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

  • CCC 1333-1336: Eucharistic signs of bread and wine
  • CCC 1691-1696: life in Christ






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