For many people one of the big concerns these days is the hot dry weather we’ve been having. In so many areas of the country farmers are in danger of losing their crops, especially their corn crops. We are warned of high food prices in the coming months. Human hunger is a world-wide blight. Millions of men, women and children live on the verge of starvation. Sad to say we can become immune to pictures of children with swollen bellies and thin limbs that we often see on TV ads begging for funds to feed the hungry of the world.
Today’s scripture is all about food. Our first reading tells of the wonder of the manna from heaven. Despite their grumbling and complaining God feeds these desperate refugees from Egypt with manna and quail to show God’s power and presence among them. This was the food that sustained them during their journey to the land of promise. In the Gospels Jesus tells us we do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. He tells us that our lives we be judged by how we provided food for those who were hungry and drink for those who were thirsty.
Last week’s gospel told of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. Word of this wonder spread through the countryside and others came looking for food. They demanded a sign from Jesus so that they may see it and believe in him. Their problem was that they could not see beyond the sign of bread to the reality of the One who gave it to them. Jesus called them to move beyond food that perishes. He offers them food that endures for eternal life. Later on he would make a promise: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, lives in me and I live in him and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus makes the powerful statement, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in my will never be thirsty.” During this Mass we’ll hear the wonderful words of Jesus, “Take and eat, this is my body, take and drink, this is my blood.” This is the great mystery of our faith. Bread is more than bread and wine is more than wine, they are the body and blood of Jesus, not a symbol but a reality. This is his great gift to each of us, himself as our food and sustenance.
Jesus gave himself to us as a gift. Unfortunately many have come to see Holy Communion as a reward. The message is, ‘if you do this or that,’ ‘if you keep these rules and regulations,’ ‘if you avoid this or that,’ in other words ‘if you behave’ you may come to Communion. But take a look at those who were present as the Last Supper: Peter, who would deny he even knew Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus and all the others who would abandon him when things began to fall apart. Sinners all, yet these were the first to receive this gift.
We come to Holy Communion not because we are holy or worthy, if fact we admit we are not worthy. We come to Holy Communion because we are weak and needy. Our daily bread is the nourishment we need to see us through our stress filled days and nights. Our daily bread is meant to give us the strength we need, the patience and understanding we need, the fidelity we need to see us through another day.
Our daily bread to meant to satisfy the many hungers we all have: the hunger for purpose and meaning as we wonder what’s it all about, the hunger for healing and forgiveness, the hunger for true and life giving relationships, the hunger for peace in our families, the hunger for the courage and patience we need as we cope with our failing health, the hunger for a deep trust in the God’s love us in spite of our failings.
May we never lose trust in the gracious promise of Jesus, “whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”