Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Ex 16:2-4, 12-15; Eph 4:17, 20-24; Jn 6:24-35
Seeking for physical food, but encountering Jesus, “the bread of life” that lasts forever. This Sunday Gospel narrative takes place the day after the miracle of the multiplication of loaves that we heard last Sunday. The people go in search for Jesus, not because they really want Him, but because they want free lunch. When they find Jesus, He uses the opportunity to teach the crowds about the food that really matters, the Bread of Life that God provides. He tells them that unlike the manna given in the desert during the time of Moses, this bread would last forever. In other words, the food that Jesus provides would not leave them hungry. Jesus then surprises the crowds by proclaiming himself to be the bread of life. "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never hunger; he who believes in me will never thirst". Last Sunday we focused on Jesus feeding the crowds with five loaves and two fish. Everyone had their physical needs met. We become deeply aware of the importance of paying attention to the physical needs of others by sharing what God in his providence has given us. This Sunday, we are invited to go beyond the physical needs; to focus our attention on Christ, who is the bread of life. Our concern for the physical needs must never overshadow our desire for the bread of life. In the Gospel we are told that the crowds were coming to Jesus because they had their fill of earthly bread. They were following him because they knew for sure they would be hungry again and that Jesus would feed them.
Jesus in the Gospel passage challenges us to move to a new level of awareness, namely that he is everything that matters most to us. He is the bread of life. He is the one who satisfies our spiritual hunger and thirst. Let us for a moment listen to those challenging words. "Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life, the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you". We must go beyond our superficial, selfish encounters with Christ, to a deeper spiritual encounter, a genuine intimacy with him. He challenges us to get out of our own desert, where spiritual hunger and thirst could starve us to death. Jesus reveals a secret path that leads us to tropical lush highlands, where rain is plentiful and food is superabundant; a secret path that leads to his own life. St. Paul helps us to discover that secret, urging us to acquire a new way of thinking, a spiritual revolution and a new humanity, enabling us to see the signs of a new creation in Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit. So what is the take away message this Sunday? 1) The Gospel challenges us to go beyond our superficial, selfish encounters with Christ, to a deeper spiritual encounter, a genuine intimacy with him. 2) Jesus challenges us to get out of our own desert, where spiritual hunger and thirst could starve us to death. 3) We are therefore invited to discover the secret path that leads us beyond our physical needs to yearn for Christ, who is the true bread of life that satisfies our spiritual hunger.
©2012 John S. Mbinda