As we continue reading from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6, Jesus is in dialogue with the people who have made an extra effort to see Him. When Jesus speaks about working “for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you; ” The people ask, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answers “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” And so they ask for a sign. Apparently feeding thousands of people with a few loaves and fish is not enough of a sign for them. And they refer to the time when God sent the people manna when they were wandering in the desert.
And so Jesus basically offers Himself as a sign. When He speaks about the Father giving “true bread from heaven,” the people say, “Sir, give us this bread always.” And Jesus replies, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
I am drawn to two verses: “that you believe in the one whom he sent,” and “whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” As Christians, it would seem that believing in the one whom the Father has sent would be simply a given. But I’m not so sure. It seems right now that we fall into making idols of condemnation and demonization, of the use of force and violence, of the exploitation of others and of the earth as a whole. Is not the worship of the almighty dollar still around?
For me, the reality of all this is related to the second verse quoted above. Maybe, in the depths of our hearts, we have trouble trusting that our hunger and thirst could be satisfied in Jesus. The Second Step in Alcoholics Anonymous, “Came to believe that a Higher Power could restore us to sanity” is not as simple as it sounds.
Does coming to Jesus mean that we never have to eat or drink again? Of course not! And I hope that more and more people never stop hungering and thirsting for peace and justice and the building up of the kingdom. It is in Jesus that we can find and work for peace and justice in our world. We will never have to hunger again for reassurance that we are loved. We can be sure of that. We never have to thirst for knowing beyond all doubt that our lives have value and a purpose. We are not worthless in God’s eyes. Coming to Jesus may not eliminate the void in our stomachs, but it will fill the void in our hearts.
We do not have to turn to hatred or fear to make sense of what is going on. We need not look to fill the void by satiating our desires at the expense and dignity of others. We can trust in the love God has for us in Jesus Christ. In the words of our second reading from Ephesians, we can “put away the old self … corrupted by deceitful desires (and they are deceitful);” and put on “the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”
Fr. Phil, CP