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Living faith is 
living charity

When Jesus speaks of himself as the bread of life, he is offering an open invitation to people to believe in him, as we can only recognise what is the true bread of life through the eyes of faith.

In the gospel reading from
St. John, Jesus describes himself as bread from heaven, but not just bread for the body, but bread that will nourish and sustain life forever.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Jesus is, of course, speaking of a special kind of faith, one that recognises him as the Son of God, as the one who is to bring about the reality of the kingdom of God.

But Jesus is speaking about a hands-on faith, one that calls people to participate in his life and, through that participation, to come to know salvation.

It is the kind of faith that is not just a belief or an intellectual assent, but one that actually empowers us to perform the works of God, which are the key to both the kingdom on earth and our own salvation.

In the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the fathers of the Second Vatican Council speak of this type of faith in language like priest, prophet and king, words that the people would have been familiar with, as in the Old Testament they were used to describe people, or groups of people, who had been specially chosen by God to carry
out a particular task in the community.

The council fathers chose their language carefully when they described the community of the baptised as a priestly people. Father Gerard Kelly says that the nuance is important, as it does not mean that every individual becomes a priest, but that the community of the baptised is priestly.

“God, however, does not make people holy and save them merely as individuals, without a bond or a link to one another” (n. 9).

The council also uses the language of people offering spiritual sacrifices, which it has borrowed from St. Paul, but it is an invitation to each person to live their lives in a way that gives constant praise to God by living the love and mercy that God characterises, which we see lived perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ.

This is what St. Paul refers to as the activity of Christian living, which is the work of God and truly belongs to the world. It is the work of God and St. Paul clearly describes this as priestly activity.

From this we can understand that the principal and basic activity of the priest is living and active charity. It is also the basic activity of fulfilling the vocation of prophet and king.

  Homily notes for Year of  Grace Adelaide Archdiocese