18th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015
Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15
The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "Would that we had died at the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! But you had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine!" Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God." In the evening quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning a dew lay all about the camp, and when the dew evaporated, there on the surface of the desert were fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground. On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, "What is this?" for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, "This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat."Second Reading
Ephesians 4:17, 20-24
Brothers and sisters: I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and holiness of truth.Gospel Cycle B
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." So they said to him, "What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat." So Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." So they said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst."
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
The strong words that Scripture gives to us are meant to open our hearts, our minds, our ears and our eyes. Yet so often the words and the Word go right past us and we ignore it all. What does it take to wake us up?
The first reading today, from the Book of Exodus, is a good example of people who started out with enthusiasm and then got tired and wanted to give up. We can imagine our own joy if someone came along and told us: Just do this and you will have all the freedom you ever imagine and all of your cares and concerns will be taken care of! You will have food and love and all that you need!
We would wonder, of course, if this was some kind of trick. The people in the first reading today are accusing God of tricking them. This is a fairly common reaction in the Scriptures, both in the Hebrew Scriptures and in our Christian Scriptures. You duped me! You tricked me! You put me into an impossible situation!
In the case of those who went out of Egypt, it was exciting and a challenge at first. Life in the desert, however, without the comforts of home, quickly becomes a real challenge. Freedom is only obtained by paying the cost!
So the Letter to the Ephesians today reminds us not to live in the futility of our thoughts! When we try to think our way through life, we will always end up frustrated. We must learn to live in Jesus and put on His truth, His way of thinking, His way of living. This is true conversion. In some way, salvation traps us and leaves us no way out except through authentic conversion. We can resent that or we can accept it.
The Gospel of John this Sunday continues in Chapter 6, which is about the bread of life. There is no account of the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper in this Gospel. Rather, the teaching about the Eucharist is almost all in Chapter 6. It pushes us to a very simple question: what do you seek? Do I want miracles or do I want the signs that Jesus gives me to tell me that the Father loves me. As I begin to choose the signs that Jesus gives, I come to realize that I no longer hunger or thirst because I have been satisfied.