Daily Reflection
May 1st, 2006

Maureen McCann Waldron

The Collaborative Ministry Office
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Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker

Acts 6:8-15
Psalm 119:23-24, 26-27, 29-30
John 6:22-29

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.
John 6:27

In today's gospel, Jesus offers us the bread of life. I picture that kind of bread as literally the "staff of life," something that those of us in our privileged world of plentiful food may not fully comprehend. In Jesus' time, bread was inexpensive, made at home and its grains and nutrients made it a key element in any meal. It literally fed people, and among poor people it might be the only food they would have that day.

In this bread of life, Jesus offers us the real thing. But why do I so often pass up his life-giving offer of a hearty meal and his way of living and instead grab for the "junk food" that is familiar - the way I always do things, the habits I cling to? Why do I hold grudges, refuse to forgive or wonder why God doesn't intervene in the bad things going on in the world?

Earlier this week I was having a really bad day. Someone in my family was in a crisis, someone I love has been diagnosed with an incurable disease and a dear two year old was struggling after heart surgery. I wallowed in the feelings of being overwhelmed and was generally crabby all day. It wasn't until I went home and remembered to pray about all of this, that I found myself at the table at Emmaus with Jesus.

As I prayed, I realized, that like the disciples at Emmaus, I wasn't recognizing Jesus in all of the situations of my life. He blesses and breaks this bread of life for us, in the two year old's struggle for life, in the sadness of a family crisis or in bad news about the health of someone we love. But the disciples at Emmaus said, "We had hoped it would be different" and so did I. I had somehow hoped that my life would be easier, that the people I love would not have to suffer and that I would not have to come up with the courage to give guidance and support to someone in such pain.

But if I turn back to the table at Emmaus, I can recognize Jesus as he breaks the bread and offers himself, broken and given. He shares this great bread of life with me and asks me to share it, to share myself in his name, with others in my life, especially those who suffer. And I will not be alone in supporting those suffering people - Jesus in his great compassion, reached out to their hearts long before I did.

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