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.”
Jesus Christ is the bread of life for us. Very often, we are like the people who left Egypt with Moses and complained about the food that God gave to them. God the Father sent Manna and Quail for those who were with Moses. Of course, such a diet would be awful after a long time. We all like variety and spice in our lives.
So many people today see the teachings of Jesus our Lord as confining, narrow and uninteresting. Yet we are on that same journey as our ancestors: through the desert to the Promised Land. The teachings of Jesus and His word are the Manna and Quail for us. If we are fed by them, we will survive. Everything else that is offered as food to us on this journey is not food, but will eventually kill us.
The most important word we can hear in the readings today is this: This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.
Once we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus is God and that Jesus shows us the way to life, then everything in our lives begins to change. We recognize that only Jesus and His teachings are the way to live. Instead of being confining, narrow and uninteresting, our lives begin to reflect the divine. What looks narrow opens up to eternal life. What looks confining instead becomes growth. What seemed uninteresting become fascinating with the glory of God.
The Letter to the Ephesians tells us that we must no longer live in the futility of our minds. It is futile to find human wisdom to support what we want in our lives. Human wisdom leads to death. Divine Wisdom, on the contrary, draws us deeper and deeper into true life.
Modern secular culture wants us to believe that what is important is money, power, free sexual relationships without commitment and having whatever we want in every area of life. Jesus teaches us poverty, sharing what we do have with others, a committed relationship between a man and a woman or chaste celibacy, service to others and a commitment to follow the teachings of the Lord Jesus in all we do.
Today, again, we must choose: life in Christ or death by the values of our modern world. We must choose: follow the Lord Jesus or follow modern secular culture. The choice is yours. The choice is mine. Jesus tells us: whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.