Christ Is The Bread Of Life From Heaven
Readings: 1st: Ex 16, 2-4; Ps 77; 2nd: Eph 4, 17. 20-24; Gos Jn 6, 24-35
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today is the eighteenth Sunday of ordinary time. This Sunday we rejoice because of the great nourishment that God gives us daily through Christ, the bread of life. As Christians, by receiving and putting on Christ, we undergo a spiritual revolution.
Our life and satisfaction are no longer dependent only on material things but, more on the spiritual. We need that spiritual nourishment, the bread of life that comes from heaven. So, Christ provides us the spiritual nourishment for our journey through the Eucharist.
The first reading reminds us of the saying that: “A hungry man is an angry man.” Due to hunger, the Israelites murmured and revolted against Moses, and consequently, against God. They doubted and put God to Test. They hastily forgot how good and merciful He has been to them and, how he separated the Red Sea and defeated their enemies to save them.
However, God proved that He is a great provider. He feed them to satisfaction. They complained, “we have no bread!” He sent them manna from heaven. They grumbled: “Now we eat only bread every day and no meat!” God rained meat on them like dust. They grumbled: “We are dying of thirst!” And, He gave them water from the Rock (Ex 17:6).
In the gospel, Jesus read the mind of the people following him. He performed the miracle of multiplication of bread and fish out of necessity. However, like the Israelites, his followers become obsessed with food. They were carried away by physical hunger. They came to search for their daily bread but, failed to recognize that Christ was the bread of life.
One important lesson for us today is that when we pay too much attention to material things, we forfeit the spiritual meaning of life. So, our relationship with God and, indeed with others must not be based solely on how much material things we are able to get from them.
Unfortunately, at times we act like the Israelites by murmuring against God. Imagine them preferring food and slavery to freedom. Like Esau, they were ready to sale their birth right for a plate of porridge (Gen 23, 29-34). For some of us, “God is good” only when things are okay. However, when we are faced with difficulties we forget all his goodness.
Hence in our second reading, knowing that we are on a spiritual journey Paul advised us: “…you must give up your old way of life…which is corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution.” Illusory desires prevent us from appreciating God’s goodness. They leave us with spiritual starvation.
Spiritual starvation is the root of all weaknesses. It is like a sickness that eats up the fabric of one’s organ. It leaves one with no immunity to fight back against the attack of the enemy. Rather, it exposes one to every kind of danger. So, to put on the new man means to protect and nourish our soul spiritually, especially, when our physical body is weak and suffers.
Finally, the gospel and the church teach us that Christ is the bread of life. He is present in the Holy Eucharist. Each time we celebrate Him, we celebrate and receive life. He strengthened the Israelites in the desert when: “He gave them bread from heaven.” Hence, to strengthen us for our spiritual journey on earth, Christ offers us himself at every Mass. We are indeed blessed as we pray at every Mass: “Blessed are those called to the Lord’s supper.”
Peace be with you!