In today’s Gospel we move into the part of John chapter 6 in which Jesus begins to talk about bread, food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man can give. The bread he speaks of, this food has several meanings. But consider the words he used: that it’s true bread from heaven, that it gives life to the world. And think about how we pray so often give us this day our daily bread. Bearing all this in mind, I ask you to go within yourself and really and truly consider what this means on a personal level.
Do you struggle to come to the Lord for your “daily bread”, your daily spiritual nourishment?”
What are some things that might be preventing you from coming to the Lord every day for spiritual nourishment?
What diﬀerence do you think consuming his daily bread could make in your life and relationship with him?
We hear in this Gospel that the people were following him. He had just fed the multitudes as we heard last week. And it might seem as though the people are following him because they merely wanted to eat again, mere physical nourishment. But it’s clearly more than that. Jesus tells them not to be preoccupied with food that perishes, but instead to seek the food that endures for eternal life. In other words, they are looking to Jesus for fulfillment of their immediate needs, their earthly needs. He’s telling them that there’s something more they need to consider, even if they likely don’t realize it.
For us, we are so caught up in the here and now, worried about the things going on in our day to day lives. It’s likely that we too lose sight of what Jesus has ultimately come to lead us toward.
So, put yourself in this Gospel. Imagine being on a quiet hilltop in the mix of the crowd, and there’s Jesus and his disciples scattered around him, looking to him, wondering what he’s going to say or do next. And for you, Jesus seems like he might have answers for the things that are on your heart and mind. Maybe he can help, whether it’s issues in your family, your marriage, at work, school, your self-doubts, or whatever it is. But as you look to him, you must know: What is it for you that you want Jesus’ help?
With all that, what do see in your minds eye as you look to Jesus? What is your reaction to this man who reminds you that you have a need, a hunger for something even deeper than all those things that seem to be swirling around you, and even more, he promises to ﬁll that deeper hunger?
Again, consider his words, “do not work for food that perishes”. Ask yourself what this means in your own life. It’s possible that Jesus inviting you to put aside the material things that are preventing you from attaining deeper friendship with him? Maybe, but look again and go deeper: What’s the enduring food he’s trying to direct you to? Is it possible that he also trying to say that if you focus more on his food that endures for eternal life, it might help you with the immediate and earthly needs?
We are called to cultivate silent prayer, so that we can hear the whisper of God in our hearts—that’s our private prayer. But I remind you that the celebration of the Eucharist is the public worship of the Church, which is where the miraculous living sign, the food that endures is given to us—the miracle. The sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, are the places and occasions where whisper and miracle meet. But if we are unable to hear God’s gentle whisper, the miracle of the Eucharist will remain hidden from us. Cultivating this kind of deep prayer life, in which we come to true and personal communion with God in our hearts, prepares us for the gift of ultimate communion in the Eucharist.
Much of what I’ve shared with you in this homily, the questions and meditation, came from a resource you already have: formed.org. Every week, on the main page, you’ll see a link to questions and a meditation on the readings for the upcoming Sunday. I remind you it’s free to you. I want to suggest that we need to pray more to prepare recognize our hunger, but also so that we can recognize the gift of life, and what it is moving us toward. Will you make time for it this week, to prepare for next Sunday or will all your time this week get swallowed up by your immediate and earthly needs?