15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

An Altar and A Plow

When we reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can understand the concerns of the disciples. They have just heard Jesus say, “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh,” and “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

When Jesus talks about the bread of life, he is speaking about more than sacrifice. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” Jesus wants to lead us into a life of love and generosity and service. This is the life that the apostle Paul describes when he challenges Christians “to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.” The life that really is life is not just sacrifice, but service.

An ancient Roman coin pictures an ox standing beneath an altar and a plow. The alter symbolizes a sacrificial death, while the plow stands for a life of service. Along with these images the caption “Ready for Either.” That makes you think, doesn’t it? Ready for either … what? Ready for either sacrifice or service behind a plow. Such a slogan is appropriate for any Christian who wants to follow the words of Jesus about spirit and life. Spirit speaking Christians should always be prepared for either sacrifice or service.