Sunday (August 5): "Lord, give us this bread always" 

Meditation: Is there anything in this life that can truly satisfy our deepest hunger and longing? Many sought Jesus out because he offered them something no one else could give - bread from heaven from the very hand of God himself. When Jesus had performed the miracle of multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish to provide a refreshing and satisfying meal for more than 5000 people (see John 6:1-15), they wanted to make him their king - no doubt because they wanted more. When Jesus withdrew from the crowd and quietly returned to Capernaum to be with his twelve disciples, they ran to seek him there (John 6:24-25). Jesus met them with a probing question - are you looking for physical food that perishes or food that gives eternal life?

Jesus offers us the bread of heaven which produces spiritual life in us
Do you hunger for the bread of life? The Jews had always regarded the manna in the wilderness as the bread of God (Psalm 78:24, Exodus 16:15). There was a strong Rabbinic belief that when the Messiah came he would give manna from heaven. This was the supreme work of Moses. Now the Jewish leaders were demanding that Jesus produce manna from heaven as proof to his claim to be the Messiah. Jesus responds by telling them that it was not Moses who gave the manna, but God. And the manna given to Moses and the people was not the real bread from heaven, but only a symbol of the bread to come.

Jesus makes the claim which only God can make: I am the bread of life. The bread which Jesus offers is none else than the very life of God. This is the true bread which can truly satisfy the hunger in our hearts. The manna from heaven prefigured the superabundance of the unique bread of the Eucharist or Lord's Supper which Jesus gave to his disciples on the eve of his sacrifice. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites.

Only Jesus can satisfy our deepest hunger for everlasting truth, life and love
Jesus' question to the crowd, and to each one of us as well, echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah: "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy" (Isaiah 55:2)? There are two fundamental types of hunger - physical and spiritual. Only the Lord Jesus can satisfy the deepest hunger in our heart - the hunger for everlasting truth, life, and love. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for truth - because in him alone is the Truth which is found in God. Jesus alone can satisfy our hunger for life - because he alone can give us abundant life - the supernatural life of God which transforms us now and lasts forever. Jesus alone can satisfy our deepest hunger for love - the love of God that knows no end, that never fails nor forsakes us, that outlasts sin and death. Jesus alone can satisfy the eternal hunger of our heart, mind, and spirit.

Doing the works of God
Jesus spoke about the works of God and what we must do to be doing the works of God, namely to believe in God's Son whom he has sent into the world. The Lord Jesus offers a new relationship with God which issues in a new kind of life - a life of sacrificial love, selfless service, and the forgiveness of others which corresponds to God's mercy, goodness and loving kindness; a life of holiness, purity, and truth which corresponds to God's holiness; and a life of obedience and trust which corresponds to God's offer of abundant life, peace, and happiness. This is the work which Jesus directs us to and enables us to perform in the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you hunger for the bread which comes down from heaven and thirst for the words of everlasting life?

"Lord Jesus, you are the true Bread of Heaven. Only you alone can truly satisfy the deepest longing and hunger of my heart. Nourish me with the bread of life that I may be truly satisfied in you alone as the giver of life."


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/