Monday of the 3rd Week of Easter
The Bread of Life Discourse
The prophet Isaiah asked this question: “Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy,” (Is.55:2).
Jesus echoes the same question asked by the prophet, in today’s gospel passage, when He rebukes the crowds who seek Him for the wrong reason. They look for a free Jolibee, McDonald’s or Chowking meal food. They look for Him because He satisfies their hunger. In other words, their approach is purely materialistic. But this is understandable especially in a country, like ours, where 70% of Filipinos live in poverty and food is the basic need. That is why He says to them: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life,” (v. 26-27). Here Jesus invites His listeners to strive for higher realities. He preaches to them to work for food that endures forever which is, His Body and Blood, His Words and to do God’s works like: feed the hungry, give justice to the oppressed, set prisoners free, care for the sick and the elderly, save the unborn, educate the young, house the homeless and so on and so forth but only after He satisfies their physical hunger. It is because, as the saying goes: “You cannot preach to an empty stomach.”
Actually to strive for higher realities is practically present in all religions throughout the world. We are constantly advised to desire and work for things that truly count. Even Plato encouraged persistently his disciples to love the ‘eternal ideas’ and to reject mere shadows. In Christianity this is captured in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus discourses: “Seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given you besides,” (Matt 6:33). And through these words He also refers to all God’s gifts, especially His spiritual gifts. And He prepares them to receive God’s greatest of gifts: The Eucharistic body and blood of His Son which Jesus starts to reveal to them.
There are two kinds of hunger, according to an author. They are physical and spiritual. Examples of spiritual hungers are: the hunger for truth, for life and for love. And only God can satisfy the spiritual hunger in our hearts and souls. It is because only Jesus offers us new relationship with God, that is, as somebody says: A life of love and service, and the forgiveness of others which corresponds to God’s mercy and kindness; a life of holiness and purity which corresponds to God’s holiness; and a life of submission and trust which corresponds to the wisdom of God.
Even preparing and having a meal at home, this is not only to satisfy our physical hunger but can even nourish our souls too. When we are preparing and having a meal, let us make it special always. Let it become a ritual. Of course before we eat our meal together, we shall pray to make everybody aware of the sacredness of what we are about to do. And when we eat together we gather as friends. Somebody said that we say to one another around the table that we are bound to one another by a mystery that transcends appearances. Even when we are apart we are together because we are a family or we are friends.
Do we hunger for the bread which comes down from heaven and thirst for the words of everlasting life?