Eph 4: 17, 2-24
Jn 6: 24-35
“I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall thirst again.” These words of Jesus today in John’s Gospel may be the most comforting words in the Fourth Gospel, probably in all four of the gospels. They are comforting and they are common. They are words we hear so often; I wonder if we sometimes overlook their significance and power?
The problem of hunger is seemingly never ending in our world today. The frequency with which we hear of these tragedies and the medium through which we hear of them, a medium in which we feel detached and safe, has a tendency to desensitize the urgency of hunger. We think of hunger in terms of food and most of us are not lacking in food. Hunger becomes something we become aware of but rarely feel. Surprisingly, most of us are very hungry but may not even know it.
Last week, Jesus fed the crowd with bread and fish. The crowd ate their fill and there were even leftovers. And yet, the crowd still yearned for something more, the crowd was still hungry. And so today they searched out Jesus and went to him for more bread, for more fish only to be told that even more ordinary bread and fish would not satisfy them. Jesus tells them that even when one is not lacking ordinary food a hunger will persist. A hunger that can only be satisfied by heavenly bread, the Bread of Life.
Humanity tends towards servitude
In the first reading the Israelites had to break from the bonds of slavery to be satisfied by the manna in the desert. They had to leave all that Egypt meant to them; slavery sure, but also a guarantee of food daily. They had to leave all of that, good and bad, and enter into the emptiness, the nothingness of the desert.
Likewise, we must break from what holds us slaves before we feel satisfied by the Bread of Life. What holds us back? Maybe it is our ambitions or desires. In many ways we are like the Israelites, preferred to live under that slavery than be free and fed completely.
We recognize, not always consciously, this hunger that persists and at some level we acknowledge that it is only Jesus who can satisfy this hunger. “I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall thirst again.
The only bfread which can satisfy
These comforting words of Jesus are also demanding words. For they require us to break from the bonds of slavery, they require us to go out into the desert, to abandon the comforts and food of this world.
The words demand a faith that is willing to bet its life on the ability of Jesus to eternally satisfy our hunger. When asked what works of God are necessary, Jesus responds simply that the work of God is to believe in the one whom he sent. To do so is not easy to believe. When we come to understand and accept that fact, it frees us from our slavery of simply feeding ourselves with the perishable food that surrounds us.
The newly found freedom leads us to be satisfied in the deserts of our lives. It empowers us to give of our own resources, our perishable food, to those who have none and encourages us to become agents through whom Jesus feeds those who hunger.