Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

18th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: WORK FOR THE FOOD THAT ENDURES FOR ETERNAL LIFE

Jn 6:24-35


THE GOSPEL OF last Sunday was the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish. Today, we heard the beginning of the so-called Bread of Life discourse of Jesus, which immediately followed the aforementioned sign or miracle. The people must have been impressed by what had happened, and now they come to follow Jesus. But Jesus knew their motives and he tried to correct them. Let us reflect on the important themes in this passage.

Firstly, the people thought that Jesus can provide them with food and can fulfil their material hopes and wishes. They had experienced and witnessed the extraordinary power of Jesus, and they want to cling to him for their own material needs. And Jesus obviously noticed this. Thus, he told the people, “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled”. According to a certain philosopher, man is by nature hungry. As hungry people, we always long for satisfaction. We are finite, and we are not complete.  What attracted the people is the power of Jesus to satisfy them in their bodily needs. This is the main reason why they looked for Him and followed him. But Jesus takes this as the point of departure for the discourse that He is to give them.

Secondly, Jesus tried to correct their motives. He told the people, “Do not work for food that perishes bur for the food that endures for eternal life, which he Son of Man will give you”. It is evident that the spiritual meaning of the event completely escapes them. Jesus is not a mere miracle-worker, but he is the One sent by God, and that He is the sign of the presence of God. It is one thing that we have to realize. We, people, are a busy people. Our main concern everyday is how to feed us and our family. We are concerned of our bodily satisfaction. But we forget our spiritual needs.

Going back to the teaching of a philosopher. He said, man, in his hunger, turns to material things to satisfy himself. He turns to one thing, and then to another thing, and so forth. Unfortunately, this will turn into a vicious cycle. That philosopher said that our searching for a total satisfaction will only end if we have found God or Christ in our life. He is the only one who can give us food that endures eternal life.

Thirdly, the people seem to have a good response. They said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Certainly, Jesus, as the Bread of Life, gives himself always to us. He is really present in the Eucharist, both in the sharing of Word and in the breaking of the Bread. On the one hand, He is present in the celebration of the Word. That is why we need to be attentive to his life-giving Word. We must be attracted to the Word of God. On the other hand, He is present in the liturgy of the Eucharist. He always tells us, “Take this all of you and eat of it.” Thus, in the celebration of the holy Mass, we need to receive Him during the holy communion.

Again, we are human beings with both body and soul. Just as the body has needs that we shall satisfy, the soul has also need that we shall bring to its satisfaction. There is food for the body, there is also food for the soul. Therefore, we should not focus only to our bodily needs, but we should also give importance to the needs of the soul. Our spiritual life needs the companionship of Jesus who can give us Bread that endures. AMEN.


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