Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - "The Great Let-Down"
It is hard to escape the fact that all is not well in society - corruption is found at the highest levels of the professions; media standards at an all time low; individuals up to their ears in debt; suicide rate and substance abuse at an all time high; marriage and family under constant attack. etc., etc., Whatever happened to the "bread of life" that satisfies to which today's readings refer?

Exodus 16:2-4,12-15: ‚‚ Here we have the first, although not the last, reference to the "bread of life". The Book of Numbers also refers to the manna which sustained the Israelites during their sojourn in the desert, as does Christ when He speaks of the Eucharist.

Ephesians 4:17,20-24: Early Christians, at the time of Baptism, removed their outer garments before being immersed in the baptismal waters; they then put on a new baptismal robe. This symbolised the putting off of the old values in favour of the new values taught by Christ and sustained by the" bread of life" .

John 6:24-35: ‚‚ In this passage of his gospel, St. John introduces the the theology of the Eucharist and the Word of God both being the word of life. God reveals Himself through Word and Sacrament, and one cannot separate the two.

Point 1: There is a great deal of wisdom in the saying -"Those who forget history, repeat it". In other words, we need to learn from our mistakes. Archbishop Hickey recently commented that he was encouraged by the growing number of younger people returning to the Church, adding that, in many instances, they had learned the hard way that the wages of sin, truly, are death, and that the goal of human existence is life. Forty years ago, our times were dominated by the activist generation. Filled with zeal and enthusiasm, they challenged governments engaged in a useless war, they burned bras with gay abandon and defied conventional standards of morality.

Point 2: Today, the suicide rate for this generation has doubled; levels of emotional disturbance are higher; marriage and the family are under serious threat, and disillusionment, discouragement, apathy and frustration appear to be the order of the day. The question not only seems to be "how to live", but "why live". All of which would seem to indicate that, while political and social causes may serve to fire us up when we are young, they do not serve to give us answers to the ultimate questions -"why and how" to live. It can truly be said that we are seeing the impact of the "great let-down" as earlier enthusiasms give way to present cynicism and doubts. To many young people, our Christianity appears to be routine, perfunctory and unenthusiastic; to others it appears as too hard! This makes me think of the comment made by G.K. Chesterton on the so called failure of Christianity - Christianity has not failed; it has been tried and found too hard"!

Conclusion: Like the Jews listening to Christ, people are still looking for the "bread that satisfies". As human beings, all people have an innate longing for a generous, open, trusting, committed life. The question for us today is -"Do our attitudes reflect this vision projected by Christ; a vision which gives real meaning, purpose and dignity to human life?" Or are we virtually indistinguishable from those for whom the temporary has more value than the eternal?

Scriptural reference: "I want to urge you in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live" (Ephesians 4:17)