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 Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is the eighteenth Sunday of ordinary time. This Sunday, we rejoice because of the incredible 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 food for our journey through the Eucharist.
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The first reading reminds us of the saying: “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 the 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 feeds 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 complained: “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 the 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.
An 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 others must not be based solely on how much material things we can 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 sell their birthright 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.
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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. Instead, 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 support 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!