Most of us are hearing Christ’s words as Catholics, some as Protestants. How we hear the words is strongly influenced by the faith tradition in which we were raised, and which formed our minds and receptivity. Catholics surely hear words about the Eucharist in this discourse, often even to the point of missing what underlies the gift of the Eucharist, namely, Christ himself. Protestants in general do not hear eucharistic teachings, but concentrate on the intimate relationship between Jesus and the hearer of the word, and on faith. Both themes are present in the “Bread of Life” discourse, and more.
We all interpret reality based on our experiences, beliefs, attitudes. It is ever good, however, to wonder if our “filters” are not screening out some essential parts of reality, and for us to seek to come into a more complete, truer understanding of reality and our place in it. I will attempt to elucidate this point in our homilies, and invite us to hear the word with a fresh openness. For I truly believe that there is more in Christ’s words than traditional Catholicism and Protestantism have appreciated. There is a fundamental teaching significant for Catholics and Protestants alike, but also for all human beings, regardless of their religious background or faith. Christ speaks to us as human beings, more than as members of religious bodies. There is a “deep-down freshness” in Christ’s words that require a calm listening with the heart to appreciate. As I hear his words, I think that Christ is seeking to draw each of us, and all of us, to live in a greater openness of heart and mind to living truth. If we are not being drawn out of our various positions and beliefs, out of our church pews, so to speak, and to “launch out into the deep,” we are probably not listening to Christ, but merely hearing again our own beliefs echoing in the all-too-closed chambers of our hearts. Christ does not seek to negate our religious beliefs, but to open us up to the ongoing gift of God. Are you receiving what Christ has to give?