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.”
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 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.”
Sometimes we ask ourselves: What do I want out of life? The answer to this question is very, very important. If we are starving for food, we will surely answer that we want food. If we are prisoners and being tortured, surely we will answer that we want freedom. So often our answers can be a clear response to the things that we most lack in life.
In many countries and among many peoples, there are enormous lacks of those material goods that make life livable. But even in countries and among people who seem to have most everything, there are needs.
Perhaps it is when we have most things that we can ask ourselves: What do I want out of life? If I already enough food, do I want more? If I have freedom, can I have even more freedom? Do I want a bigger and better home and more money? What do I want?
The first reading, from the Book of Exodus, speaks about our ancestors in the faith. They wanted freedom. They were willing to leave Egypt for freedom. But as soon as they had freedom, they realized that the now lacked the food that they had enjoyed in Egypt! This is such a human story. When we get what we want, then we want something else. And very often we forget to enjoy what we have already.
In the Gospel, people begin to follow Jesus and He realizes that they are following Him because He was able to give them bread. They do not recognize that when He gave them bread, there was a great sign being presented about God’s relationship to the world.
If someone is starving to death, that is not the time to preach fasting to them! If I am starving with them, perhaps I can speak about God. But if I have food and they are starving, there is no way that I can preach the Gospel to them.
Today’s readings challenge us to consider our own lives, what we have, what we lack and what we want. Am I seriously hungry to spiritual food? Do I confuse the goods of this life with serious spiritual food? Am I willing to give up my life in order to receive bread from heaven? Am I willing to suffer in this life for the sake of true spiritual food? Am I willing to accept whatever happens in my life and seek God alone?
May this Sunday open our hearts and our minds to the divine presence. May we desire God’s presence with our whole being and do whatever is necessary to seek God’s mercy and compassion!