Gospel Reflection for August 1st : 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus – The Bread of life
Last Sunday Jesus fed the crowd by multiplying the loaves and the fish. The message of food is contained in both the first reading and the gospel today. In the first reading the people who have been freed from slavery are complaining and hungry. It seems they were happier to be captives and well fed rather than be hungry and free! Moses hears their complaining and asks God to help them. His prayers are answered, and they are fed with manna – bread from the heavens. ‘What is this? Not knowing what it what was. ‘That’ said Moses, ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.’ They saw this as a sign of God’s care and concern for them. This message continues even more dramatically in the gospel.
This follows directly from last Sunday’s gospel. Having fed the people, they wanted to make Jesus their King, but he slipped away from them. The crowd continue to follow and find him; clearly, they are still hungry. Jesus is not initially that happy when they do find him. He says to them, ‘you are not looking for me because you saw the signs but because you ate your fill of the loaves.’ He is I think suggesting that they are following him for the wrong reason. They still want their immediate material needs met, but Jesus wants to offer them more – something far deeper. He has something far richer and sustaining to offer them and us today.
Jesus even mentions the food their ancestors ate in the desert saying that it was not Moses who gave them the food but God; ‘for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to world. Encouraged by these words they say to Jesus, ‘Give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered: ‘I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never be hungry, those who believe in me will never thirst.’
Jesus never stops calling us by our name. All that Jesus genuinely wants is that we enter into a personal and intimate relationship with him. It is he who takes the first step and offers us this call and invitation. Like those in the gospel, he wants our friendship with him to be based on a sure and firm foundation. He offers us more than simply loaves of bread, fish or manna, he offers us his very self – his own Body and Blood.
As we rejoice now that our churches and places of worship are now open after more than a year of lock down, we now can return freely to pray and celebrate the Eucharist with others. When we hear the scriptures proclaimed we are listening to God speak to us. When we are sharing in the Eucharist we are fed and nourished by Jesus the Bread of life. The Word of God is opened for us, the bread is broken, and the wine is poured for us to share. The documents from the 2nd Vatican Council remind us of this when it tells that the church ‘never ceases to share in the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from one table of the Word of the Lord and the Body of Christ.’
Each of us in our own way comes to the Lord in need and hungry because the food that physically satisfies us is not enough. We need and yearn for more – we need the food that comes from heaven and that lasts forever. Do we long and strive for Jesus’ friendship and company? Do we hunger for Jesus, the bread of life? Today, can we pray, ‘Lord, give us that bread?’
– Br Michael Moore OMI
|Gospel Sunday August 1st||Gospel John 6:24-35 ©|