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“Bread from the… Philippines?”, By Ramil Caragay, Fiat Ventures

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Growing up in a Filipino household with Filipino parents, you get used to the dinner table always being filled with a feast whenever it’s dinner time. Whenever my friends or cousins are over, the first thing my parents do is ask them, “what do you guys want to eat?” Whenever I go to any Filipino event or meeting, there is never a shortage of food. Food is always the priority for Filipinos; we were always taught that true hospitality starts with it!

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus shows the ultimate hospitality by offering us food that will not only satisfy our physical needs but will fill our souls and ultimately bring us home to Him. Jesus doesn’t just offer us any food or drink; He offers us His Own Body and Blood. He offers Himself to us because He wants nothing else but to give us eternal life.  Jesus wanted to make sure that we were fed with food that will fill our deepest desires.

Now let’s go back to talking about Filipino food for just a second. Not everyone will be a fan of some Filipino food, at least initially. However, I do believe everyone can learn to love Filipino food at some point because…well, it’s the best! Filipino food is definitely unique, and to many people it’s completely different. So you might initially be second guessing whether you should even eat it or not…

Well, in the Gospel, the Jews were second guessing whether or not they should eat from this “Bread of Heaven” that Jesus spoke of. Everything Jesus was saying seemed out of this world to them (because it literally was!). The idea of eating the flesh and blood of Jesus was very foreign to the Jews. To them, it was like trying Filipino food for the first time. It was probably like being asked to try Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew) for the first time.  Or Balut (just like the eggs you get at the supermarket … it’s a delicacy of duck eggs that have ducklings inside.)

Even to this day the whole idea of receiving Jesus through consuming His flesh and blood may seem very bizarre and mysterious. And even once we come to an understanding that it’s Jesus’ true Body and Blood, but in the FORM of bread and wine, which have nourished humanity since the dawn of time, it’s still hard to believe that Jesus is really present there.  But if we can believe that God created the universe from nothing, if we can believe that Jesus healed people of diseases and rose from the dead, then why is it so hard to believe that he’d be able to pull off changing bread and wine into his actual presence on earth?

Jesus said in the Gospel, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” Jesus wants to give us life!  It might be hard to believe, hard to accept, and might even make us raise an eyebrow like some of that Filipino food.  But if we open our minds and our hearts to the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, we’ll keep coming back for more!

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