By Bishop Edward J. Burns
This past Sunday we heard in the Gospel according to St. John that Jesus identified himself as the ‘bread of life.’ Many sought Jesus out because they recognized that he had the words that spoke directly to their heart. That is to say, he spoke to them with the words of everlasting life.
As we know, there are two different types of hunger—spiritual and physical. With our gift of faith we recognize that Jesus is the source that satisfies the hunger in our hearts, the hunger for truth and fullness of life.
Through Jesus Christ we gain a new relationship with God our Father in which we experience God’s gift of a sacrificial love, Christ’s expression of selfless service and the gifts of holiness, purity, and truth which come from the Holy Spirit. This work of our triune God calls us to be one with him. Hence, created within us is a soul that yearns for the truth and the abundance of life that only God can give.
Much has happened recently that I believe will cause people to yearn for this truth and abundance of life. Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Laudato Si is challenging us in the way we care for God’s creation— recognizing that we can do better. At the heart of Laudato Si, we find this question: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (160) Pope Francis continues, “This question does not have to do with the environment alone and in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal.” This leads us to ask ourselves about the meaning of existence and its values at the base of social life: “What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?” I believe that there’s much more we can do in respecting the gift of God’s creation.
Another recent topic, one that is extremely troubling, is the recent Supreme Court decision in redefining marriage. Jesus spoke with the words of everlasting life when he identified that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. (Mt. 19:5) When the Supreme Court decided to redefine marriage, it not only went contrary to natural law, but brought forth a law that is contrary to the Gospel. I believe that this law will bring forth a major and lasting confusion in our society. I look forward to the work of the Synod on the Family that will take place in Rome this October. Out of this Synod, a time of theological reflection, the Church will have a clear sense of how to respond to such confusion with a direction that is rooted in Christ and his words of life.
Lastly, I continue to agonize over the recent sacrilegious attacks on human life. In particular, I am watching with interest how our legislators will deal with Planned Parenthood and its heartless disregard for the child in the womb. I support the contacting our legislators to let them know that Planned Parenthood should be defunded. Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million in tax payer’s money. Pope Francis has referred to abortion as a byproduct of “a widespread mentality of profit, the throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” As Planned Parenthood continues to promote a culture of death by providing abortions on demand and its leaders openly discuss the marketability of an aborted child, it is important that we ask our legislators—men and women of goodwill —to reevaluate this egregious act and the government’s involvement in it.
While some may not like to address these issues, these are issues of today that must be addressed with charity and compassion. These topics are all about life—the primacy and sanctity of human life, the gift of life in marriage, and the life we live here on earth. These topics are clear illustrations of our need to hunger for Jesus Christ and follow his words of everlasting life.
We recognize that our Lord Jesus Christ is the true bread of life. He alone satisfies the deepest longing and hunger of our hearts with a sacrificial love. Nourished by his expression of love for us, let us in turn embrace Jesus’ words of everlasting life, be truly satisfied by his truth, and uphold him as the one who is the giver of life.
Editor’s Note: Contact Alaska’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C.: