Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 1
In the Faith Which We Profess, May We Realize That the Bread of Life Is Truly the Source and Summit Which Gives Each of Us the Fullness of Life, Which Nourishes and Strengthens Us in Our Daily Pilgrimage.
We hear Jesus in today’s Gospel teach all who were following Him a profound Truth which fills our hearts with a hope that is beyond man’s ability to fully appreciate, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
When we think about this gift of faith which we each share in Jesus Christ, when we think about all that He has taught us and all that He wishes to bestow upon us, have we ever taken the time to truly be thankful for being spiritually where we are today?
Have we ever truly thought about what it must be like for those who walk through this life without ever really knowing or appreciating the gift of the infinite and indescribable Love which God has for each and every one of His children?
How sad it must be for those brothers and sisters of ours, in Christ, who have never fully opened their hearts, who have never fully embraced the virtue of humility and the teachings of Christianity, who have never fully comprehended the true meaning of the Cross, both in the time of Christ and in our own lives today – all which gives us hope in One infinitely greater than all of us put together.
In their lack of knowledge and in their lack of understanding of who God truly is, their journey through life becomes an empty one, a journey which leaves them feeling unfulfilled, a journey which leaves them wanting for more, which leaves them with a hunger which goes unsatisfied. And they end up attempting to satiate that hunger with material goods and physical gratification and immoral pleasures, which still leave them feeling unsatisfied and desiring more.
In today’s Gospel Reading, John is beginning to lead us through Jesus’ discourses, His teachings, that He IS the Bread of Life which feeds and nourishes us on our individual pilgrimages we find ourselves making on this side of Heaven.
Our journeys, to which I am sure each one of us can attest, are filled with many peaks, in which we experience happiness, contentment and joy, and also many valleys, in which we realize difficulties, sorrows and disappointments.
The crowds, who were looking for Jesus today, are like those in today’s world who seek out short-lived pleasures derived from materialistic gains, because they had just been fed their fill due to the miracle Jesus had performed in the multiplication of loaves and fishes.
And when they found Him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum, Jesus responded to them with what appears to be a certain amount of displeasure, when He says, “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.”
The materialism of this world can bring us short-term delight. But, eventually, we each know that, in the long-run, the satisfaction which this world gives ultimately leave us flat, and we end up desiring more, almost as though materialism becomes similar to a drug fix, in which we need more and more – never being fully satisfied or contented.
And Jesus says to them and to us, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” Yet, there are many who continue to blindly seek worldly gratification, a contentment which is fleeting and short-lived.
Even the manna, which we hear about in our First Reading today, would not satisfy the Israelites for long, for they would continue to feel unsatisfied and unhappy – because they failed to open their hearts and could not understand the gift from God which truly satisfies.
Even Saint Paul, in our Second Reading, is exhorting his readers to put aside their old selves, to discard all that had been corrupting them, so that they could begin to embrace that which is new – and that newness was their life in Christ, as it is ours – Christ, who has given Himself in Word and Flesh so that each of us may be renewed, refreshed and nourished.
In the Lord’s Prayer, which we commonly call the Our Father, we petition God when we ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that this petition pertains not to just those foods which fill the stomach, but most especially to those foods which nourish the spirit.
Remember, Jesus once said, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
For this reason, the Christian sense of this petition – this prayer of ours to God for “our daily bread” – concerns the very “Bread of Life” itself, which, for our nourishment, becomes twofold: firstly, the Word of God accepted in faith, and, secondly, the Body and Blood of Christ received in Eucharist.
It is, in this sense, that we can begin to understand the direct relationship which the “Bread of Life” has upon us, for it is truly this Bread “which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
It is, for this reason, the Catechism teaches us that “…the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the Bread of Life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.”
We see this in how the Holy Mass is structured, first in God’s Word, which is called the Liturgy of the Word, and in Christ’s Body, which is referred to as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Each part is just as important as the other, for if one of these elements – the Word or the Body – is missing, it would no longer be called a Mass.
And it is through the Holy Mass, the ultimate form of prayer which we, as Catholic Christians, enjoy as an intimate part of our spiritual life, whereby we receive the fullness of the “Bread of Life” – through being fed with God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures and being fed with the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
No other prayer exists which has the fullness of spiritual nourishment as does the sacrificial prayer of the Holy Mass!
When Jesus said to those who were following him at Capernaum, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst”, He was, in part, responding to a prophesy God made through the prophet Amos, which we read in the Old Testament.
In Chapter 8 of the Book of Amos, we find, “See, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine upon the land: Not a hunger for bread, or a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD.”
It IS God’s wish, His earnest desire out of His indescribable Love for each and every one of us – you, me and all who do not know him and all those who reject Him – to reconcile us to Himself and feed us with the “Bread of Life”, the spiritual nourishment which feeds the soul, as though it were food for our journey through this life, and as food for the journey that each one of us must one day take into eternal life.
Each and every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father, may we slow down and meditate upon that petition which we ask of our Heavenly Father – “Give us this day our daily bread.” I pray that we will come to a greater understanding and a more profound enlightenment of this most wondrous Gift which is God Himself.
And with an opened and humbled heart, and in the faith which we profess, we shall come to realize that the “Bread of Life” is truly the Source and Summit which gives each of us the fullness of life, which nourishes and strengthens us on our daily pilgrimage, our individual journeys – whether they be peaks or valleys on this side of the eternal!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “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.’” (John 6:26-27)
- “…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.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
- “And when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, 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, ‘It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.’” (Exodus 16:14-15)
- “[Jesus said to the devil] in reply, ‘It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’’” (Matthew 4:4 ~ Deuteronomy 8:3b)
- “So Jesus said to them, ‘…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.’” (John 6:32b-34)
- “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.’” (John 6:35)
- “See, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine upon the land: Not a hunger for bread, or a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)
- “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
- “Let them thank the LORD for his mercy, such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam. For he satisfied the thirsty, filled the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:8-9)
- “But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat, I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.” (Psalm 81:17)
- “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17ab)
Prayer for the Day
“Divine Savior,Saint Francis de Sales
we come to Your sacred table to nourish ourselves,
not with bread but with Yourself,
True Bread of eternal life.
“Help us daily to make a good and perfect meal
of this Divine Food.
Let us be continually refreshed
by the perfume of Your kindness and goodness.
“May the Holy Spirit fill us with His Love.
Meanwhile, let us prepare a place
for this Holy Food by emptying our hearts. Amen.”