Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
August 8th, 2021

Excerpt from

A Pocketful of Sundays

"On this mountain God will provide for all nations a feast of fat foods and choice wines." Isaiah 25:6

God's holy mountain is a symbol of that fullness of life God desires for each of us. Sadly, many of us settle for "thinness." Instead of enjoying the good things of this world, we focus on what we don't have. Instead of pursuing activities and careers that will make best use of our gifts, we go after that which is most lucrative. Instead of seeking challenge, enrichment and adventure, we settle for security and predictability. Instead of taking risks, we stay home.

The mountain beckons from the distance, but it is simply too threatening and awe-inspiring. Moreover, deep down we know that if we dare make the ascent, we will need to reach out to the throngs of people climbing to the summit ahead of us-- and behind us. Perhaps the feast to which we are summoned will demand that we share our very last loaf and our very last fish with total strangers; perhaps the feast is a test of our generosity as well as God's.

EAS, 2009


  • What does the Bread of Life mean to you?

  • How does this Bread help you on the journey of life?

  • In what ways does the first reading (1 Kgs 19:4-8) illumine Jesus' words about the Bread of Life?

  • What helps YOU in times of disbelief?

  • How can you be more open to the Spirit of God?

Greetings, SBT Readers!

For what do we hunger? For some athletes, winning the gold is everything, and this drive towards glitter manifests in ugliness. Is it the need to be #1 one on the world's stage that brings out the worst in competitors? Or the need to be better than others? Or the desire to receive accolades"? Or monetary incentives? Or the insatiable quest for medals? What lurking shadow in the human psyche makes winning "everything"? The on court racquet-smashing tantrum of tennis star Novak Djokovic was one manifestation of this shadow; yet another was pentathlete Annika Schleu's abusive treatment of her traumatized horse as she was egged on by her coach to hit him harder. What does it cost to win?

Happily, there are those who model different priorities and aspirations. Take, for example, Olympic high-jumpers Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy and Muta Essa Barshim of Qatar who decided to share the gold rather than compete "to the finish"; for them, friendship and acknowledging each other's athletic greatness was more important than being first. Or take runners Isaiah Jewett (USA) and Botswana's Nijel Amos who helped each other to the finish line after falling during the 800m semifinal heat last Sunday. For these athletes, "gold" is not everything, and the world will remember them for their good sportsmanship and friendship.

So what is it that we hunger for? "Gold" can take many forms but the only worthwhile hallmark is that of kindness.

Many Blessings!


"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has
eternal life.  I am the bread of life. 
Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died;
this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that
one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that
came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the
life of the world.”
Jn 6:41-51

Picture one of the neighborhood "kids" whom you have known from infancy to adulthood. Perhaps you know this "kid's" family, or perhaps you or your siblings or your children played with this person. Now imagine if he or she were suddenly to claim divine parentage, and point to himself or herself as "the bread of life." What would you think? How would you react? Would it be hard to believe? Little Jimmy, the bread of life? Snotty-nosed Debbie, the one who is from God? Slow-poke Tyler, the one who will ensure that you live forever? Simplistic as the exercise might seem, it does help us understand the crowd's difficulty in accepting Jesus' message:

“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? 
Do we not know his father and mother? 
Then how can he say,
‘I have come down from heaven’?” 

Even though the scriptures had pointed to Jesus' coming, even though John the Baptist had testified on his behalf, and despite the signs he had performed, the crowd still could not move beyond disbelief -- and this is understandable: Jesus' origins were too ordinary while his claims were too extraordinary. Rather than judge the crowd for not believing, it might be helpful to ask two questions: 1) What is the basis for belief? and 2) What blocks us from believing?

Let's put ourselves into that crowd and examine our reactions. Most of us would have a vague understanding of the prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah but we would find it difficult to see these promises fulfilled in a member of our own community. Some of us would also have heard John the Baptist point to Jesus and, if we considered him to be a credible witness, this would help us to be more receptive. And some of us would have seen Jesus' healing miracles or experienced the miraculous feeding of the crowd the day before (Jn 6:1-14). The combination of prophecies, a credible witness and miracles would make a strong case of believing in Jesus -- but would this be enough?

This missing factor for me is Presence. Beyond wondrous deeds and written and oral testimony is that intangible "something" that Jesus must have radiated -- a combination of aura, charisma, spiritual energy, compassion, love, peace,... This "intangible" something is what attracted the followers who were open to perceiving it. And those who were closed? I suspect they were blocked by 1) the desire to preserve the status quo; or 2) the desire to exploit Jesus' powers for their own ends, for example, by crowning him as king.

It is only possible to accept Jesus' words about the Bread of Life if we can see with spiritual sight and hear with spiritual hearing, and this is as true in our own time as it was 2,000 years ago.

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