EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
On this the eighteenth Sunday of the year we think about Jesus as the Bread of Life. Today’s Gospel takes place the day after the feeding of the five thousand. The people who had been fed search for Jesus. They really don’t want Him. They want the free food. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to speak about the food that really matters, the Bread of Life that God provides. He tells them about a gift of food that they knew very well, the gift that was the manna in the desert during the time of Moses. This was seen as the greatest gift of God. It was His daily testimony of His love and care for His People until they arrived at the Holy Place he would give them. Jesus mentions that they ate the manna, but they were still hungry. Jesus would provide food that would not leave them hungry, the Bread of Life. What do you and I most hunger and thirst for in life? Jesus addressed this issue with those who sought him after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Where they simply hungry for things which satisfy the body or for that which satisfies the heart and soul? Jesus echoes the question posed by the prophet Isaiah:”Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2)? Only God can satisfy the spiritual hunger in our heart and soul – the hunger for truth, for life, for companionship and love. So we come before the Lord seeking the bread of life this and hopefully on every Sunday, or perhaps for some of us, every day, and we say to the Lord, “Feed me.” But do we really want to be fed? The food that God gives demands a commitment to Him and what he calls us to be that is faithful and faith filled people. Let us compare spiritual nourishment to food for a moment. Eating out once a week in a restaurant is not unusual. But what if that was the only meal the person ate. Someone who goes back to their familiar seat in a restaurant week after week to enjoy their one meal of the week could never be nourished enough to make it through the remaining six days. In the same way, our worship in church on Sunday going back to the same pew or seat week in week out is meant to be an important part of one’s spiritual food and drink, if this is your whole game plan for feeding your spirit you will never get rid of our spiritual hunger. A good example of Spiritual nourishment for us when we were growing up was the nightly ritual of kneeling down as a family to say the rosary. The saying was that the family that prayed together stayed together and that was true for us as youngsters in Northern Ireland during the 70’s and 80’s. Much of this has now gone as well as family life and living as a family unit with a mother and father with the children but that’s for another time. So much of our lives are spent working for the food that perishes we only have to look at the state of the world and its peoples to realise this. Of Course we must work to earn money to buy the food we eat and pay for the roof over our heads and all the extras that make life enjoyable. But we need to realise that as well as the externals there is much more to life than the daily grind of life and living. For a fulfilled life, one should try to make time during the day for prayer and that is the food that endures for eternal life the gift of Jesus who came so that you and I might have life and have it to the full. In the Eucharist, we don’t merely listen to the words, “Take eat,” but we actually get up, come to the altar to take and eat the bread. It’s not just the bread that we take, bless, break and give. God took Jesus’ whole life, blessed, broke it and gave it to us. Jesus wanted those who followed him after having their fill of fish and bread to discover real spiritual nourishment so that they would never hunger again. “Our daily bread” contains many grains of nourishment. It is about doing God’s will by receiving what God is giving us at any one moment and sometimes it can seem like crumbs, or crust, or even quite stale. That Holy Bread, containing in Him all “sweetness” is God’s pledge that we will not be abandoned or left to go our own way grumbling that we did not get enough when in truth we have more than enough in material goods and if we stop we also have so much nourishment for our spiritual lives in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life and in our prayer life. Together, at the invitation of the Lord, let us go to him! For he says to us: “He who comes to me shall not hunger!” let us remember that we go to the Lord in order to fill our hunger and to satisfy the real desires of our soul the hunger for truth, for life, for companionship and love.