SUNDAY, EIGHTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Ex 16:2-4,12-15; Ps 78:3-4,23-35,54; Eph 4:17,20-24; Jn 6:24-35
I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The shared theme of this Sunday’s readings is the provident care of a loving and merciful God who not only provides for the physical sustenance of his children, but gives his only son for their spiritual sustenance. In the first reading, we hear the grumbling of the people of Israel in the desert against God and his anointed servant Moses. However, God miraculously provides them with manna for food and quails for meat. In the Gospel we see the people, who had been miraculously fed on the loaves on the previous evening, coming in search of Jesus, seeking yet more food. However, Jesus tries to introduce them to the spiritual food – which is his own flesh and blood. In the second reading, Paul asks the Ephesians to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Our desires are connected with our knowledge. We cannot desire anything that we do not know. Animals desire only physical food; whereas we human beings, along with food, desire many other things – knowledge, freedom, respect, peace, a healthy spiritual life, etc. Though some of these are innate, most of them grow with our knowledge of them. That is why the right knowledge is important. Hence, Jesus spent three long years teaching the people. The teaching about the bread of life is one of the most important ones. For without it, we could never grasp what he desired to give each one of us for our nourishment.
What does eating the body and drinking the blood of Jesus mean? Just receiving the consecrated bread and wine? Of course, there is no denying that through the Eucharist the faithful are nourished spiritually. But is that all? Is it not experiencing the proximity and companionship of Jesus at every moment in our lives each day?
Because of the prevalent pandemic, in some parts of the world people have lost the opportunity to partake in the Eucharist. However, people in some parts are so accustomed not to go to Church, or to partake in the Mass online, that they don’t find the need to come to Church anymore. Nevertheless, it does not mean that people do not have spiritual hunger. Each year a great number of people are heading towards new-age religions. More than ever, people are greatly searching for the supernatural. The age-old Christian practices like the Lectio Divina, meditation, the practice of the presence of God, etc. are hijacked and presented in an attractive garb by the new-age movements. The faithful have forgotten how to ‘chew and masticate’ upon the flesh and blood of Christ.
Most of the sicknesses these days, are associated in one way or another with the food and drink we take in. Junk food has been the cause of sickness in the younger generation. There are many trying to spread awareness about the health hazards of these foods. However, sadly enough, no one seems to be bothered about the food that we feed our mind and spirit with. The toxic ‘breaking news’ that is served 24×7; the vulgarity, vanity and the vengeance that is freely propagated through the movies, serials, advertisements, etc. have become our staple spiritual food! We are so much hooked on these things that without our full awareness, we are enslaved to them. Because of this malnourishment, marriages are crumbling, families are falling apart, criminal and anti-social activities are spiralling. May we learn to feed on Christ. May we be able to find at least some time daily – 10-15 minutes – in silence to converse with him. May we be able to realize the pangs of hunger and thirst of our spirit, and satisfy it in and through that holy and consecrated bread which the Father gives to his children every day. “Receive Communion often, very often… there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing.” – St Therese of Lisieux
Response: The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
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