18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2009 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.”
The Gospel of Saint John presents us in Chapter 6 with profound teaching about the Eucharist. There is always more that we can learn from this Chapter. Today we hear about the confusion between eating bread that perishes and bread that lasts for ever.
Probably all of us know what it is like to get hungry and yet have nothing to eat. We probably have not faced starvation but simply hunger. Yet we can become very uncomfortable even with simply hunger and long for food. Today’s readings are trying to get us to think about whether we have any real spiritual hunger. If we do, it should function at least somewhat like physical hunger.
The first reading, from the Book of Exodus, tells us about the physical hunger that our ancestors in the faith experienced when they were going through the desert. They needed food. We humans cannot live simply on spirituality. We also know that we humans cannot live only on physical food.
The Israelites grumbled. This often happens in our humans situations. Instead of dealing directly with problems, we begin to grumble and to speak behind the backs of those who maybe our leaders. This shows another defect within us.
The Gospel of Saint John teaches us today that we often look for the Lord Jesus not because we want to follow His teachings, but because we are looking for some advantage for ourselves. Perhaps we don’t think of this because we are dealing in the realm of the spiritual, but this type of aggressive self-seeking is also possible in the realm of the spiritual.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Ephesians, is a simple and profound teaching that we must not live in the futility of our minds. Faith is not thinking about Goid but about following God. Today in much of modern culture we tend to believe that if we can think something, then we can control it and are in charge of it. This is particularly true in the areas of mental health: psychology and psychiatry.
Instead, we must learn that following the Lord Jesus forms us by doing, not thinking. As we begin to do the Lord’s will, we are formed and we learn new realities.
Let us ask this Sunday that we may long for true spirituality and that following the Lord may form us into strong and joyful Christians.