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.”
Today we continue the theme from last Sunday about God’s miracle of feeding people when there is no food available. Last week we heard of Elishah the Prophet’s feeding of others and then Jesus in the Gospel multiplying the food. Today we hear about the manna in the desert.
We can reflect on God’s presence in our lives. Only God makes our life possible. Only God offers to us what we truly need in order to live. So often we want the food of this world, and yet the food of this world does not last for eternity.
Many of us take for granted the importance of all that happens in this life. We often think that what happens here has ultimate value, but it does not. I don’t want to starve to death in this life, but if I had to starve to death in order to help some one else and there were no other way, then I would be prepared to do that—for love of the other person and for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.
We Christians can be as slippery and treacherous as any other people. We would like to have eternal life, but generally we don’t want to give up anything in this life. At some point, we need to recognize that living for the Kingdom of Heaven is going to demand that we give up everything. This is not a popular idea in our present age. Rather we would like to have everything in this life and everything in the next as well.
At one level, there is nothing wrong with that desire. The only challenge will be when we have to choose. And generally we Christians tend to choose like everyone else: what is good in this life! And we ignore the eternal values given to us in the teachings of our Lord. This happens most often because we have not had a deep and profound experience of the presence of Jesus in our lives. We believe in Him as a sort of abstract being.
This is what is happening in the Gospel today. The people want Jesus to do something truly extraordinary so that they can believe in Him. We who live after His death and resurrection still find it difficult to believe in Him. We tell ourselves: Had I been there and see him truly raised from the dead, then my faith would be strong!
The challenge is for us to walk a spiritual path and to begin to believe, without seeing, without having been there but accepting the faith that has been handed down to us. We have to come to know personally, as our own experience, the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel” “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” This can only come about by the small choices of belief that must happen every day in our life: by choosing to read the Scriptures, by choosing to believe in His Word, by choosing to look at the world from the eyes of God, etc.
Let us ask in this Holy Eucharist that our hearts may be converted and live. Let us ask that our faith would grow deeper. Let us ask this gifts for all of our sisters and brothers.